The council revealed its preferred option for the future of adult education last night as a consultation was approved.

Two petitions have already attracted hundreds of signatures opposing Merton Council’s plans to review Merton Adult Education (MAE) in the face of £32m of cuts.

Speaking at the meeting at the Civic Centre in Morden last meeting, council leader Stephen Alambritis said: "This has been a tough cabinet meeting.

"These are difficult times.

"The preferred option is to move to a commissioning model."

As reported by the Wimbledon Guardian, the options were leaked several weeks ago by Merton Liberal Democrats.

A sixth option, which would have seen the service leave the borough, was scrapped last night.


1. Continue as it is with some budget cuts

2. Shared 'federation' with South Thames College

3. Shared 'federation' with Sutton College of Learning Adults

4. Close adult education centre. Instead Merton Council would pay others to do this

5. Close adult education centre. Wandsworth and Merton, would pay others to do this

6. Scrap adult education - ruled out last night

MAE, which has more than 5,000 students on its books, is the first to be ‘under review’ after the council announced no service would be safe in its bid to save money.

Parks maintenance and waste collection is the latest to be under fire, attracting anger from council employees.

A Twitter campaign @saveMAE has been launched to save the adult education service, based in Whatley Avenue, Raynes Park, as the council begins budget discussions ahead of next year.

But students have expressed anger about the consultation and what they say was a last minute discussion on the fate of their courses.

A spokesman from the Save MAE group said: "MAE students are furious at the council’s plans for adult education services in Merton.

"An agenda item to determine the fate of the service was inserted at the last minute into a cabinet meeting.

"This rushed timescale prevents a coherent and considered response from staff and students.

"This is particularly pertinent given that many students are vulnerable adults with special needs.

"They require support and assistance to mobilise their views."

Shas Sheehan, a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, who set up one of the petitions, said: "We are really delighted that the council has conceded and a consultation will take place.

"My concern is they are going to rush it through.

"It is too little too late."

The consultation will launch on Monday, November 24 and run until the end of the year.

A decision on the future of adult education will be made in January.

To view the council cabinet documents, see the website.