News just in is that Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside once part of St Martin's College and now part of the newly created University of Cumbria, is to be "downsized", some of the buildings sold and the staff dispersed to other campuses.
Charlotte Mason College, originally known as the House of Education was founded by the educator Charlotte Mason in 1891 and has been an integral part of Ambleside ever since, especially its famed Outdoor Education courses that started the careers of many outdoor educators, teachers, guides, climbers and mountaineers.
This is a blow not only to staff, students, and alumni but also the local Ambleside community which could loose upto 20 per cent of its 2,600 inhabitants. There are currently 600 students and over 100 staff at Charlotte Mason.
One member of staff told us that the college community was "devastated " and when asked the reasons for the closures said that all they were told was that it was for "economic reasons". At this time there had been no consultation with the college staff or local civic leaders by the University of Cumbria, who I was told, are telling the Lake District National Park Authority today about the closure.
Lynn Clark of the Universirty of Cumbria told us however
"We will engage with staff and the local community throughout this process. Please also note that if planning assumptions go ahead the University is committed to leaving a footprint of outdoor studies provision at Ambleside given its excellent location for such activity."
Local business owner Ian Barnes of Lakes Climber told us," A closure will hurt many local businesses especially in the off-season. From our point of view at Lakes Climber we employ past and current students, especially from the outdoor ed' courses. It will damage community spirit and the atmosphere of the town. I've no doubt that some small businesses in Ambleside will struggle."
The MP for Ambleside is Tim Farron. His website is www.timfarron.co.uk
Report amended 20/3/2008