Labour's decision to pull the plug on funds to rebuild Taunton’s and Itchen College is disgrace.
Colleges in Southampton and the rest of Hampshire were promised funds for ambitious rebuilds which would give them the facilities they need to equip young people for the 21st century.
At the end of June the Government announced a shortlist of 13 further education projects that would proceed. Southampton has been left waiting for months to hear if its planned projects would be given the go ahead and we have now finally learned that the city is excluded from the list, with the majority of funds going to the Labour heartlands in the North of England.
Southampton's colleges join the list of over a hundred colleges around the country that have been betrayed by Labour and not given the funds they were promised. The 13 colleges that remain on the list are still not guaranteed to go ahead and if they do they may find that their funding is considerably reduced.
More than a million pounds has been spent locally in Southampton in preparation for the rebuilds. Taunton’s College has received planning consent from the city council and building work was ready to start. On the east of the city Itchen College was due to move to the Eastpoint Centre in Thornhill. This was part of a much more ambitious, wider project which would aid the regeneration of the area, supporting the redevelopment of the Eastpoint Centre and Sholing Technology College being rebuilt on the vacated Itchen College site with Building Schools for the Future funds. The city council is now working hard to ensure that these other important projects are not jeopardised by the Government withdrawing the college money.
This is another blow for Southampton from a government that is not interested supporting the city. This comes on top of the decision earlier this year to scrap a planned grant of £4.6m to refurbish the city centre’s Guildhall Square and extra taxes that are being piled upon businesses in the Port.
Despite all the rhetoric from Gordon Brown saying that he is investing in public services, all we see locally is broken promise after broken promise and money being taken away from the city.