Disabled college students sent packing after just one year in New Malden's Beaconsfield Centre

Surrey Comet: Disabled Orchard Hill College students with their families Disabled Orchard Hill College students with their families

Parents of young disabled adults have been told their children’s New Malden college will have to move - after just a year at its new site.

Orchard Hill College only opened its new centre in Beaconsfield Road in July this year, saving Kingston students a long journey to the college’s main centre in Carshalton.

But now Kingston Council has announced some of its adult education services will move into the Beaconsfield Centre by July next year – leaving no room for the college.

The move comes as all of the borough’s adult education services are relocated away from the North Kingston Centre ahead of the building being turned into a new secondary school by 2015.

Although councillors insist the college knew the move was temporary, parents claim they have only just been told the news.

Sophie Ugle, 53, whose 23-year-old daughter Rachel attends Orchard Hill, said: “We did realise that this might be temporary but we never expected it to be for one year and neither did Orchard Hill – why would they have gone in and renovated it spending thousands of pounds?

“These are young people that have very complex physical and learning disabilities.

“Our children are not sacks of potatoes that can be moved around like this. It is deeply distressing.”

Chessington resident Jackie Mills, 50, mother of 21-year-old student Leanne, said: “We did not know anything about it, it’s not fair and people are upset.

“As far as we knew, our children were settled.”

An e petition on the council’s website entitled Leave Orchard Hill College in Beaconsfield Road has so far gathered 107 signatures.

Councillor David Ryder-Mills, Kingston Council's lead member for schools and continuing education, said: “As an interim measure we allowed them to use Beaconsfield for a year.

“It was and still is a one year let – they were aware of this.”

Coun Ryder-Mills said there was a possibility Orchard Hill students could attend Kingston College in the future.

But Mrs Ugle, from Blagdon Road, New Malden, said: “It is unimaginable that the buses will be able to drop off our young people and get them to walk through – they are not going to be able to do it.

“They cannot manage crowds and noise.”

Peter Mayhew-Smith, Principal of Kingston College said: “The Orchard Hill option is one of a range of possibilities being explored in relation to the North Kingston Secondary School project, decisions have not been reached at this time.”

An Orchard Hill spokeswoman said: “Orchard Hill and Kingston Council are working together to resolve the issues positively.”

 

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