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Teachers, students lobbying Town Hall over college threat

PUBLISHED: 17:01 25 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:23 05 October 2010

TEACHING staff and students are calling for support to help save their popular adult education centre in London’s East End.

They want other adult education centres, unions, community organisations and the public to join their lobby of Tower Hamlets council tonight (Wednesday) at the Town Hall in the fight to save Bethnal Green Adult Education Centre, one of the oldest in the country

By Mike Brooke

TEACHING staff and students are calling for support to help save their popular adult education centre in London’s East End.

They want other adult education centres, unions, community organisations and the public to join their lobby of Tower Hamlets council tonight (Wednesday) at the Town Hall in the fight to save Bethnal Green Adult Education Centre, one of the oldest in the country.

The campaigners, who have been told their courses are being shifted to make way for pupils moving in for two years while their school is being refurbished, make their representation to a meeting of the authority at 7.30pm at the council chamber at Mulberry Place, Clove Crescent, in Blackwall.

“This is an open public meeting which anyone can attend,” campaigning college tutor Roberto Foth points out.

“The council is now back-tracking in the face of public opposition, denying there are any plans to sell Bethnal Green Centre in two years’ time.

“But we are continuing to press Tower Hamlets for cast-iron guarantees that the centre will remain devoted to adult education beyond 2011.

“This is an objective well within the authority’s financial means.”

Adult learning is being threatened, say campaigners, following a statement by Tower Hamlets Children’s Services director Kevin Collins in a letter to MP George Galloway in March, confirming the council had plans for the building to be “disposed of” after a two-year interim period.

Students and staff were informed of preparations to move some courses to other centres and terminate others altogether.

One councillor, Clair Hawkins, told a public meeting that the centre had been earmarked for pupils from nearby Bethnal Green Technology College during a two-year refurbishment, displacing adult day classes in the process.

Bethnal Green Centre has been an adult education centre since the 1920s for courses such as woodwork, jewellery, ceramics and mechanics, the so-called dirty classes’.

The threat to these courses has led to the setting up of the Association of Dirty Classes’ by students which has been actively campaigning since March.

Teaching staff were told in February that daytime classes will have to move out from September. It led to George Galloway and 200 protesters marching down Bethnal Green Road on April 26, first reported in the East London Advertiser and attracting coverage in the evening press and BBC radio.

mike.brooke@archant.co.uk


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