Dukeries chiefs slam county council cuts

BOSSES at Ollerton's Dukeries College and Complex have hit out at council plans to axe funding for community services — which they say could force them to cut jobs.

Nottinghamshire County Council plans to slash the 201,000 which it currently gives the complex for hosting community facilities and activities, while also cutting around 180,000 which goes towards extended services at the school.

The move is part of 33m of savings proposed by the county council to balance its budget and the funding is set to be reduced next year and axed completely from 2011/12.

But college principal Danny Smith said: "If the cuts go ahead, our community bus, our elderly day centre and all the other community services will be in serious jeopardy — job losses will be inevitable."

The Dukeries has offered a wide range of community services for nearly 30 years and the complex plans to campaign to keep its funding.

Labour county councillor Stella Smedley, who is chairman of the governing body, said the Tories running County Hall wanted to withdraw the funding because only one other school in the county, Sutton Centre, benefited from extra funding.

She said: "This overlooks the fact that we are delivering services that are not available any other way because of our relatively isolated geographic situation.

"It's all part of a Conservative programme to freeze the Council Tax. Those who will benefit most from this are the few who live in higher tax-band houses.

"It's a decision that I will be fighting tooth and nail on behalf of people in Ollerton and our neighbouring villages."

Petitions against the cuts are being launched and the complex has set up a group on Facebook, called Support the Dukeries, while public meetings will also be held.

The complex runs a wide range of facilities, which could all be affected in some way, including an elderly day centre, library, adult education courses, after-school classes for students, children's centre, farm unit, riding stables used by disabled people and workshop areas.

Kevin Dukes, who is part of the senior leadership team, said it was difficult to say what the impact on services would be at this stage because things which were not directly funded by the money could also be affected.

He said: "It is difficult to say because we have just seen this big figure which services an awful lot of things that we do.

"It is a major concern around the college but it is more of a concern for the community. It doesn't just affect us. Losing that pot of money is not just the individual things, it is the ethos of what we do that will change.

"We will try our absolute hardest to hold on to everything. We don't want them to go."

The complex has had a host of famous visitors in recent months, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lord Seb Coe.

For further information on the campaign, visit www.supportthedukeries.org or contact community liaison officer Jane Paling on 01623 860545 ext 192.