FENLAND: Labour's 'incompetence' blamed by Tories over threat to new college campus

PUBLISHED: 12:03 01 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:02 02 June 2010

Fenland Tories launch county council election campaign

Fenland Tories launch county council election campaign

BY John Elworthy ANGRY councillors today denounced the threat to a new Fenland campus of the College of West Anglia. Conservative councillors, all candidates in next month s local elections, lined up to berate the Learning and Skills Council for throwing

BY John Elworthy

ANGRY councillors today denounced the threat to a new Fenland campus of the College of West Anglia.

Conservative councillors, all candidates in next month's local elections, lined up to berate the Learning and Skills Council for throwing into disarray plans for the proposed £70 million campus at March.

Council leader Jill Tuck told a press conference at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, March that she was "not going to let this Government off the hook on this".

She agreed with Councillor Simon King who had earlier said that this "is a Labour problem not a Conservative problem".

Cllr Tuck said the Learning and Skills Council had pledged £5 billion to 144 college projects across the country and this had now been cut back to just £300 million.

She said the county council would press for the college to be built and that "anything less than delivery of the college is a failure for the people of Fenland".

Councillors also expressed concern about plans exclusively revealed by the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard about redundancies at the college and the proposal to move equine and land based services to Milton. These had originally been planned to move to the new March campus.

Councillor Martin Curtis said the council's priorities were absolutely clear- and that was to deliver the new college, as planned, and in March.

He feared the Government could be tempted to switch any funding that is available "to Labour core areas."

Councillor Geoff Harper said the axing of the college project "has left us high and dry because of incompetence at Government level".

Councillor Alan Melton said the threat to funding a new college in Fenland was "a dereliction of duty at the highest possible level".

He said: "Fenland is an area that has been known for low skills and attainment for a long long time and we see this as our chance to up skill the Labour force for the future. The Government goes on about pushing money into infrastructure, at this time when we are down on our knees is the time to invest.

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