College group hits back at claims over future of Harrogate site

Debra Forsythe-Conroy.
Debra Forsythe-Conroy.

A Yorkshire college group has moved to allay fears that one of its sites will close following speculation over its future.

Last week a source linked to Harrogate College said its principal Debra Forsythe-Conroy had been removed from her post.

The source also raised concerns that the college was to be sold off from Hull College Group due to financial difficulties and said staff were worried about their future as no other college had show interest in a take-over bid.

However, in a letter to stakeholders the college group strongly denied the claims.

It said: “The source claim that Debra was removed from her post was inaccurate and she is still very much a part of the group and will be until her official leaving date of March 31.

“In any organisation, during the run up to retirement, there are many aspects of certain positions that need to be handed over to ensure a smooth transition. The recruitment process for a position of this level can be a long one and has already begun, and the current senior leadership team are overseeing the management of the college to ensure the student experience remains strong.”

The letter goes on to say that the claims have stood the risk of overshadowing the group’s celebration of Ms Forsythe-Conroy’s career and an official event honouring the principal would be held next month.

It continues: “The source claimed that the college is to be sold off, with no current interested party, again, this is not the case. The corporation have considered that Harrogate disaggregate from the group in the future. As we have fully communicated to all staff in the group, disaggregation is very different to being sold. Harrogate College will remain with the group through Fresh Start (a recovery plan) and will then separate from the group, providing terms and conditions are fully met. We are not in a position to receive offers from any other parties at this stage.”

The group concluded that any future proposed merger of Harrogate College and another partner organisation would be beneficial to learners and enable course provision in Harrogate to “increase and respond to economic opportunities” in North Yorkshire.