The chair of Brighton & Hove City Council's children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Hannah Clare, has commented on the closure of the Friends Centre. She said:
“At a meeting in April 2020, councillors expressed their intention to in-source the Adult and Community Learning services contracted out by the council to the Friends Centre and to secure a sub-lease on their Isetta Square premises.
“The recommendations agreed in April were reliant both on securing a lease of Isetta Square, and on the Friends Centre being able to remain financially solvent.
"However, landlord consent for this lease has not been secured and sadly the Friends Centre has informed us they will be moving into administration on 31 July.
"As a result it is not felt it would be right for us to enter into any lease arrangements on this basis.
“As part of these developments the council has looked at alternative properties within the council’s portfolio, but there are no available properties suitable for teaching at this current time.
“Therefore the recommendations agreed in April are no longer achievable – a situation that is deeply regrettable.
“No plans were in place to transfer 46 members of staff. The planned transfer would only have applied to staff who were delivering the elements of the council-provided contract.
"The council has not made any staff member redundant.
“However, given the transfer is no longer possible, the council has now had to make new arrangements. These will impact upon those members of Friends Centre staff on the council contract who were expecting to transfer to the council through TUPE, and we are very sorry about this.
"Leadership of the council changed just days ago - and I have recently taken on the role of chair of the children, young people and skills committee. In this capacity I want to thank the Friends Centre for their service to the city thus far.
"Given recent circumstances the council’s priority is now to secure the future provision of adult and community learning in the city. We will work towards establishing alternative provision and move forward delivery of other aspects of adult education such as family learning.
“Family learning focuses on improving the English, language and maths skills of parents and carers and strengthens their ability to help their children. This takes place in primary schools or online prioritising those in deprived areas. We will be continuing this service.
“Particularly given the impact of Covid-19, we remain committed to delivering an adult learning offer in the city and will work with other providers, including through subcontracting arrangements, to deliver a programme that effectively supports the city’s disadvantaged and vulnerable learners.”