'Leisure' classes have value too

4th March 2005 at 00:00
I am horrified and dismayed to learn today that Colchester's local adult education college may cease running so-called leisure-orientated, non-vocational courses.

Already, some of the summer schools for this year have been axed, including yoga, the class I attend. It is simply not good enough that we should be treated in this cavalier manner by those who hold the public purse strings.

This may be the thin end of the wedge. Even more alarming are rumours that all classes considered to be for leisure are to be scrapped entirely, even though these are invaluable to so many members of the community, Greyfriars community college is meant to serve the whole community of Colchester, not just those seeking qualifications, and has done so for many years.

I notice from the current brochure that several courses which would be classed as "leisure activities" - such as the arts, health and needlework, for example -are no longer listed.

I have lived in Colchester since 1970 and attended many excellent courses run by Greyfriars, including crochet, French conversation, tailoring and yoga, and have benefited greatly from all of these courses.

The possibility that Greyfriars will become merely a series of classes for the unemployed (or unemployable?) so that the Government's unemployment figures can potentially be reduced is one that I, as a taxpayer and senior citizen, find abhorrent. I do not object to subsidising such courses via taxation, providing people such as I can continue to benefit from courses that interest us, but do not lead to certificates.

I and others feel that there is a cynical disregard for the wishes of the local community. Why should our college acquiesce to the political manoeuvring of central government instead of meeting the aspirations of its tax-paying customers?

What proportion of my local and national taxes go to colleges? I am seeking assurance that the needs of older (and not so old!) residents for the so-called "leisure" pursuits will be properly met.

Ann Martin Summerlands Church Lane, Colchester, Essex

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