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MPs meet minister over debt-laden K College's financial crisis

K College has five sites, including this one in Dover
K College has five sites, including this one in Dover

Kent MPs will hold a crisis meeting with a minister today over the financially-troubled K College.

The meeting has been arranged to discuss what options there could be to help the cash-strapped college clear its multi-million pounds deficit.

MPs have privately expressed dismay the college failed to act swiftly enough to address its spiralling shortfall and will ask further education and skills minister Matthew Hancock if the government can help.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, who arranged the meeting, said it was staggering the college had run up such huge debts.

Charlie Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke

The financial mess has seen the college fall £16million into the red and some 160 jobs are under threat.

Mr Elphicke said: "It seems the financial controls and support were inadequate, not to say non-existent.

"Everybody is gobsmacked that they got themselves into a financial mess and did not realise what the situation was. It is staggering."

He said the MPs wanted to explore what options there might be to secure the college's long-term future.

"We want to find a positive way forward. The situation is obviously very serious and a real concern as we need to ensure that east Kent has access to skills training."

Asked if MPs would ask the government to bail out the college, he said: "I am open to all ideas - the important thing is to look at all the options."

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said he remained anxious about the possibility that the town's site could be sold off as part of efforts to rein in the deficit.

The college operates five sites at Dover, Folkestone, Ashford, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells and cater for more than 14,000 students.

The crisis has already led to the resignation of college principal Bill Fearon, who will leave at Christmas.

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