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Staff wait for sacking decision

Staff at troubled Cricklade College were still awaiting a decision on the future of union activist Andrew Murray after a meeting with the college principal failed to break the stalemate.

Mr Murray, secretary of the lecturers' union, NATFHE, at the Hampshire college, vice-chairman of the national negotiating committee and a national executive member, is one of three business studies lecturers threatened with redundancy.

All three met with acting principal Elizabeth Blakemore last week but she declined to make a decision on the redundancies.

Mr Murray believes he has been singled out because of his union activities, but the college management deny victimisation, claiming the redundancies are part of a departmental reorganisation.

The redundancies dispute comes on top of problems at the Andover college dating back several years. The college's dealings with an IT training company Extras Ltd and claims for European Social Fund money are under investigation by the South Wales Fraud Squad and a report from auditors Ernst and Young into the college's affairs is believed to be imminent.

Former principal Richard Evans was suspended in March this year following a damning report from the Further Education Funding Council which said the college's governance was "weak" and its finances "endangered the solvency of the college".

NATFHE claims Mr Murray, who has taught at Cricklade for 12 years but has had no timetabled classes since the beginning of term, has been deliberately sidelined by management.

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