Merton Council must reconsider its decision to close the Whatley Avenue Centre for Adult Education and other local centres for Merton Adult Education (MAE) services such as Wimbledon Library and Vestry Hall.

A more innovative and progressive approach would be to explore other ways of providing MAE services. It needn’t look far. On its border it can study the example of SCOLA, Sutton College of Learning for Adults. This 40-year-old student and staff led institution has an excellent reputation, with upwards of 13,000 enrolments (50 per cent of which are new each year). It enjoys a phenomenal 98 per cent satisfaction rates in student surveys and employs 320 staff.

The college is rooted in the borough and sees its mission as serving all communities, providing opportunities for residents ranging from apprenticeship to arts and crafts.

In the 1,500 signatory petition I submitted to Merton Council, which is yet to be acknowledged, I suggested they explore alternative options to the knee-jerk reaction of closure. I think it is now well established that the rationale for the decision to get rid of MAE is neither clear nor transparent and I welcome the call-in which provides an opportunity to Merton’s councillors to re-examine this decision.

I hope that they will aspire to be visionary rather than blinkered.

Shas Sheehan

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson

Wimbledon, Morden, Raynes Park and Motspur Park