THERE is "no alternative" but to close Bolton Sixth Form’s Farnworth campus, says the MP who campaigned for it to be built.
The announcement that it will close at the end of this academic year with the loss of 35 jobs has been met with sadness by former Bolton South East MP Dr Brian Iddon.
But the Bolton Sixth Form College governor, who fought for the campus to be built, added it was a difficult decision that had to be made.
Dr Iddon said: “I fought for it because at the time there was no sixth form in Bolton South. There was in Turton and Rivington but not in Farnworth and we trying to give people a chance to get into the education system.
"There was nothing in that part of the borough for my constituents at the time. There was the Queen Street site, which was near to the town centre, and there was talk of regeneration so this would bring in trade for the local businesses too.”
The £14 million campus in Queen Street will close at the end of academic year, with students in year 13 being moved into the £30 million Deane Road campus in September.
College bosses say applications to the modern campus in Farnworth have fallen drastically since the town centre building opened. And despite their efforts to keep it open, it is no longer viable.
The Learning Skills Council froze a number of planned college develop-ments after running out of cash, and there was no guarantee that the town centre sixth form and neighbouring Bolton College would have been built.
Dr Iddon said: “I am pretty certain that Bolton was the only place in the country to have received three new colleges. The sad thing is had there been proper education planning, we could have one Bolton Sixth Form in the town centre and another local authority could have had a college.”
Falling pupil rolls and the opening of new colleges made the college unviable, according to Dr Iddon.
He added: “I am very sad about the closure and have been part of the decision but there is no alternative.
“When people in Farnworth say we do not do anything for them, they had this and now it is shutting.”
Bolton Sixth Form College bosses say they will look after the facility until another use for it can be found, and Bolton Council confirmed it is helping the college explore options as up to 35 jobs will be lost.
A spokesman for the Bolton Association of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers said: “We are very sad to hear of the redundancies at Bolton Sixth Form College.”