THE group trying to save Malvern Hills College has said it is ready to make a formal offer, with more than £850,000 raised.

The Malvern Hills College SOS Task Group announced it has raised £850,000 for a formal offer to be made to Warwickshire Colleges Group for Malvern Hills College.

This formal offer has been made by the stakeholders and member of the Task Group, Worcestershire Community Foundation.

The SOS Task Group, formed by Cllr Tom Wells, has worked over the past two months to bring together different groups for a community option to the closure, which was announced by WCG at the end of 2020.

According to WCG, the college was “no longer financially viable".

Cllr Beverley Nielsen, chair of the task group, said: “Warwickshire Colleges Group (WCG) have stated that further education students have been falling at Malvern Hills College.

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"They haven’t made it clear that there has been an increase in adult education students who are self-funded and whose lives have been transformed through their experience at the College.

"I’m delighted that through the work of the SOS Task Group we have prompted the necessary partnerships for this formal offer to have been made. We have brought together Town, District and County Councillors.

"We have included those who used to run Malvern Hills College in earlier years and those, like Roger Britton, who are involved in other active local charities.

"I’m pleased that partners across Malvern Hills are united in their view of the continuing need for Malvern Hills College in providing potentially further, higher, 16-19 GCSE and A-Level and lifelong learning on the site into the future.”

Speaking after the announcement, WCF trustee Roger Britton said: "As part of the SOS Task Group it’s tremendous to now be able to take forward this formal offer to Warwickshire Colleges Group.

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"I am looking forward to a rapid agreement by WCG to this fair offer so we can get on and make sure that the people of Malvern can continue to use this wonderful college.

"We are thrilled to have raised this amazing sum and we are open and would welcome any further contributions which anyone might want to make to ensure we save our College."

Meanwhile, Malvern Hills District Council has broken its silence over the closure, with leader Cllr Sarah Rouse saying further education provision in the district needs to be protected.

She said: “We understand the pressure WCG is under as a result of the impact of the pandemic and we want to continue to work with them constructively, as well as talk to other partners, to try and find a solution.

"But, we are not prepared to accept there is no longer a functional need for a college in Malvern.

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"With growing demand in the near future, the current offering needs to be significantly improved.

"Allowing Malvern Hills College to be sold for alternative uses would be a missed opportunity and potentially very damaging to our residents, the future of our young people and our local economy.”

Conservative leader Cllr Jeremy Owenson said the council should have acted sooner in helping the task group.

He said: "Once again, the Leader of the Council has been asleep on the job.

"The Action Group fighting to save the College has been working alone, without the full support of the Council.

"I am glad that my motion going before Council next week has finally prompted Sarah Rouse to act to save this valuable educational facility."