Campaigners were left angry and frustrated last night after the council decided to press ahead with plans to slash the adult social care budget and stop running of adult education.

It was standing room only as Merton Council approved plans to commission Merton Adult Education (MAE) to another provider which would host classes ‘at various locations across the borough.’

Wimbledon Times:

Campaigners against changes to MAE at Whatley Avenue

Councillors said it was cut budgets or go bust as it approved ‘life-changing’ recommendations.

There were gasps from the public gallery at the council offices in Morden when councillors voted for the plans, stating they had listened to the thousands of responses from members of the public including students.

Simon Williams, director of community and housing, warned that funding cuts to MAE from the Skills Funding Agency are due next month, half-way through the term, and no courses were safe.

Mr Williams said: "We will find out which courses can pay their way.

"By commissioning it out it takes the risk away from the council.

"It won’t be right to say every course will be protected."

Posey Furnish, chairman of governors at Joseph Hood Primary School, said after the meeting: "It came as no surprise to us that the council has railroaded through their decision about adult education - it was clear to us from the outset that they were going to do what they wanted, which obviously is to sell the Whatley Avenue site to the highest/fastest bidder, and that's what we're bracing ourselves for."

Last week trade union Unison wrote to Merton Council accusing it of ignoring 5,000 petition signatures, 1,000 written responses and packed public meetings against plans to change the way Merton Adult Education (MAE) is run.

A Unison representative spoke at last night’s meeting, but he was supporting campaigners against adult social care budget reductions.

Lyla Adwan-Kamara, CEO of Merton Centre Independent Living (CIL) said: "I was hoping for some dialogue tonight but I was disappointed there wasn’t any."

Merton CIL chairman Roy Benjamin said the changes to adult social care were predictable. He said: "It is just a shame they didn’t listen to disabled people in the borough.

"We had been hoping they would offer more protection for older and disabled people."

The council is under pressure to save £32m over the next four years by slashing budgets and tendering out services.

Councillor Mark Allison, cabinet member for finance, said: "We can’t afford to go bust.

"If we do, Eric Pickles comes in and runs the council for us.

"If we do not make any savings we will lose £5m of our reserves and we will be bust."