Bosses tell of their disappointment over Sandwell College plan for The Public

Bosses tell of their disappointment over Sandwell College plan for The Public

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Businesses at The Public today spoke of their fears for the future and frustration at being kept in the dark after it emerged the £72 million arts centre could be become part of a college.

Top-level talks are taking place between Sandwell College and council bosses about taking over the New Street building, just five years after it opened.

Hundreds of people have already signed a petition against plans revealed exclusively by the Express & Star last week.

Ro Hands, the boss of LearnPlay Foundation, a not-for-profit company which employs 200 people from the area, said a lot of people were worried about what would happen. She has already collected 1200* names on a petition calling for the building to remain as an arts centre.

“These are very concerning times,” she said. We have had dozens of calls from concerned parents, lots of tears, lots of drama.”

Chris Lydiate is a sales director from graphic design company Eagle Design, one of the latest firms to occupy office space in the building.

“We are shocked and a bit disappointed to be honest that no-one spoke to us about this,” he said. “We had not heard anything. If it was to become a college we would have to up and move elsewhere. What I don’t get is that it is a new college. Did they not know then they would need extra space for pupils? Someone has made a major mistake somewhere down the line.”

Andy Sinclair, is marketing director at the Change Consortium, which runs a number of community projects in the area including the People’s Orchestra.

The firm also runs a volunteer programme to help youngsters get into work, which Mr Sinclair said would be axed if the plans went ahead. He said: “It would also be disastrous to the young people of Sandwell.”

Sandwell Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper has said the authority has ‘gone as far as we can’ with the building. The college aims to offer 500 places for A Level students at The Public if plans go ahead.

Via Express & Star

*Over 1200 people have signed the online petition

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