Ethnic minorities helped by Bilston

31st March 2000 at 01:00
PROFESSOR David Melville denies that the Further Education Funding Council closure of Bilston Community College was an act of institutional racism.

Yet the uniqueness of Bilston was that 30 per cent of its staff were members of ethnic minorities. This enabled it to operate a system of recruiting ethnic-minority managers, who then liaised with community organisations so that ethnic-minority communities were able to decide for themselves their own education requirements.

The FEFC chose to ignore this and with the compliance of the local press sustained for nearly two years uncontradicted th view that Bilston was near the top of a list of "failing" colleges burdened with vast debts, and grossly inefficient. This was almost entirely a white view. Ethnic-minority people opposed and continue to oppose the closure of the college.

It is now more than three years since the FEFC implied criminal intent by the college in acquiring debts of between pound;3m and pound;10m, and still no proof has been produced. But the college was closed on these unsubstantiated allegations.

Dr G Barnsby

Friends of Bilston Community College

141 Henwood Road

Wolverhampton, West Midlands

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