Bilston governors implicated in massive debts

April 16, 1999

Financial management was so bad at Bilston Community College that a funding council enquiry team has said the college could face debts of between Pounds 3 million and Pounds 10 million.

Audit enquiries continue, but whatever the extent of the disaster, the Wolverhampton college has become the first to be forcibly closed since the sector was incorporated in 1992, after years of mismanagement and bad governance.

As Whistleblowers predicted in February, the FEFCE report into the college's future has raised questions about the position of Labour MP Dennis Turner as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Further Education. As a governor at Bilston for the past 20 years, Mr Turner is implicated in the crisis.

The FEFCE found that the governing body "did not conduct its business in accordance with its instruments and articles of government; nor did it fulfil its responsibilities under the financial memorandum with the FEFC".

The college was criticised for a totally unrealistic strategic plan for 1997-2000, which predicted 6 per cent income growth over three years from Pounds 24 million to Pounds 68 million. "The most surprising feature of these financial forecasts," said the FEFCE, is that the governors approved them. Governors were largely ignorant of the full scale of the crisis until June 1998.

The enquiry saw no future for the college. A new institution will be created from the Bilston site and its neighbour Wulfrun College. The enquiry team recommended Dennis Turner and all other governors should be barred from the new board of governors.

Want to blow the whistle?

Contact Phil Baty on 0171 782 3298 or email him onpbaty@thes.co.uk

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