Leighton Andrews, Minister for Educations and Skills
I previously informed Members, in a written statement issued on 23rd January 2013, that Coleg Harlech WEA North had found itself in financial difficulty.
At that time, in accordance with paragraph 16 of the Financial Memorandum, Welsh Ministers provided CHWEAN’s Governing Body and audit committee with notice of matters of serious concern regarding CHWEAN’s financial affairs, and requested the urgent submission of a recovery plan.
My officials have been working closely with the college on a recovery process, and while it is recognised that progress is being made, concerns remain about some aspects of the college’s financial position and the safeguarding of public funds.
The key consideration throughout has been the safeguarding of learners and, as far as practically possible, to minimise the impact on staff.
To maintain momentum my officials have written to the college to request further information in support of the recovery plan. The CHWEAN governing body has reconfirmed their desire to merge with WEA south in order to strengthen their position going forward, and to this end negotiations have been recommenced.
Welsh Government awaits formal confirmation of their decision, and will support the merger arrangements if the college’s updated recovery plan can demonstrate that it is in a strong enough position to do so. If appropriate the merger process will be designed to address any further issues identified to ensure that WEA South will not be disadvantaged. I would expect that an all Wales college will be established by 31st December 2013 at the latest.
My officials will continue to work with the college to support them through the process. As stated before our focus is on safeguarding provision for Coleg Harlech WEA North learners.
I will continue to keep Members appraised of the situation as events unfold.