SOMERSET Skills & Learning (SS&L) has confirmed that it is closing five of its centres by January.

Education centres in Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead, Chard and Ilminster have already closed and a centre in Taunton is due to close in January following a £3.5 million government funding cut in the Autumn which has seen SS&L undertake a massive company restructure with significant redundancies in the organisation.

Susie Simon-Norris, chief executive for SS&L, said the education provider is 'sad' to be closing the centres. 

"We are so sad to be closing these centres which have served their local communities with adult education for many years," Sue said. 

"Following the funding cuts, which stripped virtually all of Somerset's community learning funds, we were left with little choice but to reduce overheads which has included closing centres as well as losing loyal and long serving staff members.

"We can confirm that centres in Burnham, Ilminster, Chard and Minehead will all close by 22nd December, with the current Taunton centre closing early in the New Year."

A spokesman for SS&L said the education provider has teamed up with local libraries and external venues to ensure adult education in maths, English, computers, business, childcare, health & social care and support teaching will continue in the affected areas.

"We are striving to ensure these communities continue to receive opportunities for adult education," Susan said.

"Apprenticeships and training so we're partnering with local venues to continue to deliver courses, however, all community leisure and learning courses have been halted at this point," said Simon-Norris.

The CEO confirmed that talks with the Education and Skills Funding Agency are ongoing and that she is continuing to lobby for vital skills funds to be returned to Somerset.

She said that although it is a 'sad and stressful' time for the education provider they are 'staying positive' 

"We're continuing to put pressure to have funds reinstated and we will be starting 2018 with a streamlined organisation and more determination to ensure Somerset's local communities get access to the skills and qualifications they need," Simon-Norris said.