Forest people to have their say over controversial college move
IDEAS for the future of Gloucestershire College's Five Acres campus will be discussed later this month as the community gets a chance to have its say.
Campaigners want to hear the public's views on what it wants for the site and receive feedback on its visions to keep adult learning, leisure facilities, a theatre and, possibly, a sixth form at the site.
It comes amid plans to move the college from its Coleford home to a purpose-built campus in Cinderford's Northern Quarter by 2015.
Action group Five Acres is Not for Sale (FANS) is hosting the consultation to get views on what people want to see at the campus.
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FANS chairman Jamie Elsmore believes the community has a right to be involved in future plans.
He thinks residents have not been given that option by the Forest of Dean District Council and Gloucestershire College.
The 42-year-old said: "We have been talking to the schools and sports clubs and we are working very hard to understand the needs and concerns of everyone.
"We want to be proactive and make sure something constructive, that will enhance the community, will be left for those in the Forest of Dean.
"If Gloucestershire College does leave there, it is important to make sure there is something left for residents and I am confident that we can do that.
"We believe we can find some common ground with the political chiefs and implement a vision for the future.
"FANS was created through a lack of communication and a feeling the public was kept in the dark.
"We want to give everyone a voice and hear all their ambitions and needs so we can see if they can be fulfilled.
"As time goes on we are building momentum and many people feel it is important that we maintain a source of education within the Forest of Dean.
"We have been concerned that the curriculum that Gloucestershire College puts forward will not compliment the needs of the community and so we might want to fill that void.
"We want to represent the community and give people feedback. So far the process has not included consultation and so we are stepping into that fold.
"We are sending out a message that decision making should be done with the support and backing of the community and this is what we are hoping to get from the consultation day."
Parish councillors in Coleford, West Dean, Newland and English Bicknor have joined forces and backed FANS.
They have previously expressed no confidence in the district council and the college over the decision.
A FANS march in June attracted more than 400 banner-waving protesters to the streets worried for the future of the site.
But civic chiefs in Cinderford can't wait for the town's long-overdue regeneration scheme.
The consultation will be taking place on Thursday, September 20 at Berry Hill Rugby Club between 5.30pm and 8.30pm.
For more information, visit Five Acres FANS on Facebook.