A MARCH through the streets will take place this weekend to highlight opposition to plans to close Stourbridge College.

Trade unionists, led by former Dudley Council leader Councillor Pete Lowe, will assemble at 11am on Saturday (June 29) outside the Hagley Road college ahead of a protest march starting at 11.30am.

The show of unity is part of a continued campaign by Cllr Lowe and trade union colleagues to try to save Stourbridge College from closure following the shock announcement last month that Birmingham Metropolitan College bosses want to sell off the campus to pay off debts.

Protesters will march through the streets to Swinford Common in Stanley Road, Norton, for a rally at 12.30pm featuring talks by speakers including the University and College Union’s head of further education Andrew Harden, UNISON regional secretary Ravi Subramanian and councillor Pete Lowe.

Stourbridge News: Banner making ahead of the protest which will take place on Saturday June 29Banner making ahead of the protest which will take place on Saturday June 29

BMet bosses say closure of the college is necessary to put the organisation back on a sound financial footing and they say all students will be offered a place at Dudley or Halesowen Colleges and the majority of staff will also transfer to the other colleges with a small number staying on with BMet.

But union reps say the plan to close the college, following a review by the FE Commissioner, would be a "huge blow" to staff, students and the wider community and would mean an end to vocational education in Stourbridge.

UCU head of further education, Andrew Harden, said: "Students are understandably worried and unhappy about the prospect of having to travel further and pay more to access their courses. Local people should not have to pay such a high price for years of poor management by BMet.

"This decision affects hundreds of staff and students, but the current closure timetable is far too short for proper consideration of all the options. BMet must urgently halt these damaging plans so that proper consultation can take place with everyone affected."

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, has been criticised by Labour rival Pete Lowe, who hopes to run for Mayor in 2020, for failing to take a stand against the closure.

Mr Street, however, told the News this week that he has "been working with the colleges, the council and the local MP to secure continued further education provision at Stourbridge" and he added: “I have also made sure that colleges will offer free transport to any alternative location, so that Stourbridge residents will not lose access to any training or learning opportunities, and have also worked to ensure that Stourbridge College staff are able to keep their jobs and transfer where possible.

“I am working to make sure that the Stourbridge College site continues as an educational centre for local people.”