Cash challenge from key charity

Funding issues over merger as charity questions donation.

The Bulmer Foundation has told HW it would have demanded the return of hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding if Pershore college’s Holme Lacy campus merged with land-based specialist Hartpury College rather than Herefordshire College of Technology (HCT). The foundation funds an organic land use programme at Pershore, “to make sustainable land use a defining feature of Herefordshire”. It felt its organic approach at Holme Lacy conflicted with Hartpury’s “state-of-the-art” focus, including the Home Farm Dairy Unit, one of the most technologically advanced in any UK agriculture college. Foundation chief executive Rob Garner said: “There was no commitment [from Hartpury] of continued support for the sustainable development work we were doing. We’ve put a six-figure sum into the facilities at Holme Lacy. The outcome of the strategic review would render this investment invalid and we would ask for the money to be returned.” He added that the foundation and HCT successfully lobbied local MPs Paul Keetch and Bill Wiggin to support the Pershore/HCT merger. But he added: “We didn’t know what Pershore’s financial footing was. That’s a concern. If Pershore is now fully financially robust and [there is] no merger that’s no problem to us and the relationship with Pershore will continue.” LSC representative Debbie Goode said: “This was not the main reason Hartpury did not go forward as potential preferred partner.” She added that the LSC took into account geographical and academic as well as financial factors.

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