Friday, July 17, 2009

Give Our Colleges Their Money Back

The Government has behaved in the most shameful and inept manner towards our local colleges. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that all the colleges in the city and in Hampshire would lose out on the millions of pounds promised to them for rebuilds.

Today a Parliamentary Select Committee report was published revealing in detail the staggering level of incompetence by both the Learning and Skills Council and the Government department whose job it is to oversee the quango. Responsibility for the fiasco must be laid squarely at the door of local MP John Denham who was the Secretary of State at the time.

Not only have the colleges been denied the money promised them, they have spent huge sums of money in preparation for the rebuilds. This is money that has been spend on planning permission, architects fees, survey work etc. It is money that could could have been spent on improving the education of young people locally. Between them Itchen College and Taunton's College have spent over £1.5m. Multiply this across the country and the figure is more than £200m!

On Wednesday I put forward a motion to Southampton City Council. This called on the Government to return the sunk money that the colleges have spent. This achieved all party support. Today the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee is echoing this call. I hope that the Government will listen and pay back the money. Under the circumstances that is the least they can do.

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