Hundreds join fight to save South Staffordshire College's Cannock campus
Furious parents have launched a petition to stop South Staffordshire College closing its Cannock campus.
Upset family members and friends have said students cannot afford and will not have the time to travel to the college's other campuses - in Penkridge, Lichfield and Tamworth - where courses currently offered at Cannock are being moved.
The petition has been heavily backed already with more than 500 people signing in just three days as the pressure mounts on South Staffordshire College to reverse its decision.
The Cannock site is set to close in July after the college upset residents by making the decision due to financial pressures, despite a long association with the town.
The petition, set up by resident Jordan Busby on change.org, reads: "A recent decision has been made to close the Cannock Campus of South Staffordshire College and re-locate students to other sites such as Tamworth, Lichfield and Rodbaston.
"Many students at Cannock campus come because its local, easily accessible and serves a large community the other campuses cannot.
"Cannock campus serves not only Cannock but many of its neighbouring towns and villages, and most of these are within a single bus journey to Cannock town centre bus station, whereas if these courses were moved further away, many students would have to catch either several buses, trains or drive many more miles to get there. This incurs many implications such as time and money."
One of those who signed the petition, Staffordshire resident Alison Eardley-Davenport, said: "Education should be accessible to all.
"Having to travel a distance may mean students of all ages may not be able to afford the cost of travel or time constraints of employment, family responsibilities may mean the difference between being able to attend or not."
The college has reassured those concerned that it will be putting on free transport to the other campuses, which it says will help save students an average of £65 a month.
Jamie Smith, executive director for engagement at the college, said: “Thanks to the 524 people who have taken the time to sign the petition and engage with the relocation of Cannock Campus, it is vital that the college and the council involve the community in the decisions being made.
"The petition focuses on transport issues and South Staffordshire College recognises this.
"The provision of free transport to all currently enrolled learners and Cannock Campus applicants from the district will apply immediately and for the duration of their time with us, to ensure a smooth transition to the appropriate nearby campuses.
"It has been estimated that this will save learners an average of £65 a month, as well as saving time, for example a learner from Cannock travelling to the Rodbaston campus on our transport can expect a journey time of 15 mins.
"We will also be adjusting timetables to accommodate the changes in journey time in response to learner demand.”