A seven-figure business debt owed to a council by a long-closed college has been written off.
Burton Manor College in Wirral closed more than 12 years ago. The adult education centre was used by a number of public authorities including Liverpool City Council and the University of Liverpool.
At the time of its closure, the city council was responsible for underwriting money owed by the college, accrued as a result of payroll commitments.
It has been confirmed the city council has accepted it will not be able to recover more than £1.5m owed by the Neston site.
Originally owned by Henry Neville Gladstone, third son of former prime minister William Gladstone, Burton Manor College opened in 1948.
It offered courses ranging from photography and literature to music and dance, in the evenings and on residential weekends.
After racking up debts and unpaid fees due to low take-up of courses, the city council indicated it would cut the college’s budget – and the college closed in 2011.
Documents released by the local authority have confirmed it will no longer pursue the debt owed by the college after its cabinet agreed to write off historic debt last month.
‘No longer recoverable’
During the time the site operated as an adult education centre, the city council acted as payroll provider.
A cabinet report, to be discussed at the city’s education, skills and employment scrutiny committee next month, said: “The college closed in March 2011, owing at that point cumulative business debt of £1.581m.
“Under the governance agreement for the college, the council was responsible for underwriting such deficits, so recorded the cumulative deficit as an outstanding debt from the college but matched by a 100% bad debt provision; however, the debt was not formally written off by the council at that point.”
As the college has been shut for 12 years, the business debt is seen as no longer recoverable.
The report added there was no “net impact to the council’s financial position in 2023-24”.
The number of people who took courses at Burton Manor over the years was 2,190, of whom only 7% were from Liverpool.
In the years before it closed, the site developed a base for cottage industries in collaboration with the University of Chester and won a lottery grant to revamp its historic greenhouses.