COLLEGE bosses say their ventures inside Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter are going from strength to strength, despite the ailing fortunes faced by the £6.5million centre.
Mark Emmerson, Boston College’s commercial manager, says the new South Lincolnshire College has delivered on its promises and moved to stress the college is only a tenant of the building – not part of the troubled community interest company (CIC) which runs it.
The college has been involved with the Red Lion Quarter project since its inception and ploughed £2million into its construction but handed over control to the CIC when it opened in April.
Mr Emmerson said: “We are exactly on track for where we expected it to be. From the college’s point of view we are committed to South Holland.
“The situation concerning the CIC is something we have been very aware of but are unable to influence.
“We have got apprentices in the food court and we are still trying to look at the situation there. We have been in conversation with South Holland District Council and the CIC trying to get clarification to bolster support for our students.”
Empty offices and shop units, as well as the food court losing money, have forced bosses to appoint new management team Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES) to run the Red Lion Quarter just three months after opening.
Consultation talks have also been started with staff to look at how to cut costs. However, Mr Emmerson says the college’s Sage restaurant has gone from “strength to strength” and more students are due to be studying in the building from September.
Courses on offer at South Lincolnshire College include catering and hospitality, business administration and finance, cake decorating, cocktail making, IT, hair and beauty and performing arts.
“We want to reassure the public that the college has done what we said we were going to do.
“We will not fail,” said Mr Emmerson.
“It was not until we started to see a lack of businesses moving into the units and footfall was not what we expected that we realised something was wrong.”
Mr Emmerson says he believes managers at the centre need to re-engage with local food producers to get the food court back on track.
He also says he believes it’s time residents and shoppers gave the Red Lion Quarter a break.
He added: “There has been a lot of back-biting about how much public money was spent on this facility but you need to look at how much money was spent in the local economy.
“We are talking millions generated by that building for local businesses and people have forgotten that quite quickly.”