Could Winsford College Get Cash For Building Refurb?

Winsford College in Cheshire might be given an upgrade, after applying for a funding for building repairs.

This comes after the government revealed two schemes that could benefit the educational establishment. These were the £2.5 billion national skills fund and £1.5 billion finance for building renovations.

Councillor Sam Naylor from Cheshire West and Chester Council, who is on the board of Warrington and Vale Royal College (WVR), told Cheshire Live: “The college is in a better state now than it was a couple of weeks ago.”

He was referring to the uncertainty about whether the sale of WVR’s Hartford campus would go ahead. However, it has since been revealed planning permission for Lane End Developments to build 108 new homes has now been granted.

“The sale of that was very much required to inject some finance into WVR college. I have already spoken to the people at the college and we are going to be looking at how we can tap into that extra funding in the budget,” the councillor stated.

Much of this cash will go into improving the state of the buildings, after government funding has been scaled down over the last ten years.

Indeed, this is why WVR was originally formed in 2017, as a combination of Mid Cheshire College and Warrington Collegiate, to reduce finances for Further Education (FE) provisions.

Last April, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which is part of the Department for Education, gave notice to the college to improve its finances, labelling them “inadequate”.

It is believed that Winsford Town Council was going to talk about the future of the campus earlier this week. However, the sale of the Hartford site, together with the government’s announcement of extra available funding, might have been the reason for the meeting to be postponed.

Councillor Naylor added: “I am certainly confident that the Winsford campus has got a good future.”

He added: “Not only have we got extra funds now, but we have got the FA site on the way – there is confidence in that £70 million investment alone, plus the number of jobs it will create and FE course opportunities.”

The local authority representative stated he wants to move some FE provision back to Northwich, after students from this area studying at WVR dropped by more than half (from 946 to 442) after Hartford’s campus closed two years ago.

For now, the WVR is focusing on applying for extra funding from the government, which was revealed in the Budget 2020 last month.

To help support public services, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £1.5 billion would be ploughed in upgrading FE colleges around the country.

It will also spend £120 million on eight new Institutes of Technology and £7 million for 11 new maths schools, in a bid to boost STEM education in the UK. In addition to this, it will invest £90 million a year for arts activities for high school students, as well as £29 million per annum to improve PE provisions in primary schools.