College chief faces queries over Joseph Priestley closure

Joseph Priestley Campus, Peel Street, Morley
Joseph Priestley Campus, Peel Street, Morley

Morley councillors are to meet with the principal of Leeds City College over the possible closure of its Joseph Priestley campus.

The college, headed by Peter Roberts, has started a formal consultation period over the proposal to shut the Peel Street building, which accommodates around 300 students.

College chiefs say they have to find around £11m worth of savings and that they are looking at the transfer of provision to nearby “alternative locations”. However, parents and union groups have expressed concern at the suitability of other sites to cater for the 100 special needs students who use the campus.

Morley Borough Independent councillor Judith Elliott said: “We are meeting to discuss what other options might be available across Morley to accommodate the college so it can continue to support students across Morley. We need to look at council owned buildings – such as the town hall or the library – which might be suitable.

“We will be doing all we can to make sure we identify alternative locations that would support the college. We think it is vital that we do and that students can continue to benefit from the courses the college provides in Morley.”

Newly elected MP Andrea Jenkyns said she’d been contacted by concerned staff and parents and was to seek answers from the college.

She said: “The Joseph Priestley campus is a great resource for Morley and for the surrounding areas, and an important part of our town’s history.”

“I am committed to working with staff, parents, students, local councillors and the wider communities to get the answers we are entitled to, and fighting for the campus’ continued future in Morley.”

A spokeswoman for Leeds City College said that negotiations with staff and trade union partners were ongoing and that the consultation period ends on June 19.

Julie Kelley from the University and College Union (UCU) said staff at college campuses across the city were to be balloted over industrial action.

She said: “The possible closure of the Morley campus will have an adverse affect on many, many students. Some of these students are vulnerable and the provision and specialist courses on offer at the Joseph Priestley campus for them may not be able to be replicated elsewhere.

“The closure of sites last year shows there’s a pattern emerging here and 370 staff now face the risk of redundancy, which will affect teaching quality and morale.”