AN MP has slammed a decision to close a college in Malvern.

Harriett Baldwin said she was ‘shocked’ by an announcement from WCG that it will close Malvern Hills College in 2021 after a review found keeping it running was not financially viable.

Local councillors also joined in a chorus of disappointment over the loss to the town.

Mrs Baldwin, the MP for West Worcestershire, said: “I am shocked with the Warwickshire College Group for taking this decision at a time when training young people could not be more important, and I am saddened for those people taking courses like hair dressing or beauty therapy who are faced with a long diversion to Evesham to continue their studies.

READ MORE: Malvern Hills College to close down after review finds it no longer financially viable

"They also have done it without even a consultation or the courtesy of sharing their thinking with me.

"In fact, when the group took over the Malvern site they promised they would invest.

"Last week’s Spending Review delivered a £375 million investment in skills.

“This feels like a very short-term decision, bearing in mind our national need to help young people to get the skills they need to compete in a difficult job market.

"The college group has rightly looked to expand its digital skills teaching capability and we should be doing more teaching locally, not less.

"I’ve asked for an urgent conversation with principal Angela Joyce to understand her thinking and to reassure me that this is not just an asset-stripping exercise.”

Malvern Labour councillor Samantha Charles also voiced concerns, saying: “We have already lost Dyson Perrins sixth form in Malvern and need more post 16 education places not less.

"Malvern Hills College has had a school of art since 1886 and so many of us have taken courses for work or pleasure there.

“It will be a sad loss to our community and I will be taking this up with our MP and county education department urging them to provide support and funding to keep it open.”

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Cllr Sarah Rouse, leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “This news is hugely disappointing for the town and all the students involved.

"The college is in a difficult position due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and I understand tough decisions need to be taken.

"We will be seeking urgent talks with the college about their future intentions for the site and to explore potential options with them, including maintaining some form of education and training provision.

"We will also be seeking further assurances over their commitment to Malvern Hills Science Park.”

Professor Fergus McKay, a former MHC teacher, said: “The planned closure of Malvern Hills College is devastating news for the local community.

"I have witnessed first-hand the important contribution the college has made to those who live and work in the Malvern area.

"I would urge all those in the locality -the regional and district council, local employers, former students and all other interested parties to do all they can to ensure the college remains open and continues to serve the citizens of the Malvern area.”