Council announces consultation extension

Merton Council has announced it has extended the adult education consultation to Sunday 18 January, two weeks after the original deadline.

The consultation which originally launched on 17 November, asks residents the best way to provide an adult education service in the borough, which is financially sustainable. The consultation was originally due to close on 4 January.

However the council has listened to calls from residents and service users to extend the deadline so as many people as possible can take part and give their views. The extension also means groups who might not have had an opportunity to respond before the college end of term, can now be heard.

The council is asking residents to consider a range of options which set out how adult education can be delivered in the future, in light of the £32 million savings needed to be made over the next four years following government cuts to funding. The council announced its preferred option in November which could see other education providers deliver adult learning in the borough on the council’s behalf. Closing the service has been ruled out. But no decision will be made until the consultation has concluded and Cabinet has considered the opinions of the respondents. The results of the consultation and all contributions received will be included in a report that will go to Cabinet for decision on 16 February.

Residents are encouraged to complete the online consultation. Paper copies are also available in Merton’s libraries, adult education sites and in other prominent locations. Earlier this month, the council also invited residents to the Civic Centre to give their views and speak to the cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton and director of the community and housing department, Simon Williams, about the options for the future of the service.

Merton Council’s cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “A number of residents asked us to extend the deadline as the consultation falls over Christmas and New Year. In light of their concerns I have asked officers to extend the deadline by two weeks to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard. We have already received a large number of responses, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in the service to complete a consultation form so Cabinet can make a full and informed decision in February.”