MP concerned for future of North Devon College project

MP Nick Harvey has called on the Government to do more to help the project to build a new North Devon College at Seven Brethren, Barnstaple. The college is one of 79 which have been given Application in Principle" status by the Learning and Schools C

MP Nick Harvey has called on the Government to do more to help the project to build a new North Devon College at Seven Brethren, Barnstaple. The college is one of 79 which have been given "Application in Principle" status by the Learning and Schools Council as part of its Building Colleges for the Future Programme. Yet, despite having already spent �6million as part of the planning stages, the �75million expected to help construct a new college building in Barnstaple and establish a new skills centre in Bideford is under threat as a result of a national �5billion shortfall in funds. Mr Harvey says the future of the plans remains uncertain as the Government seems unable to guarantee funding or pinpoint which projects may be most affected. Further Education Colleges across the country are facing similar financial setbacks as a result of the shortfalls yet during the course of the debate it was evident that Minister Si�n Simon MP was unable to answer the concerns raised or allay any fears about the future of the project. In a parliamentary debate yesterday (Wednesday), he expressed expressed his grave concerns not only for the college, but for the wider local economy which is due to benefit from the subsequent �200 million regeneration of Barnstaple and the surrounding area and contribute to helping North Devon out of the recession. Highlighting the importance of this issue in the debate, he said: "Surely all this construction work on colleges is a most effective way of stimulating the economy during the recession? "And looking ahead to the future when it all has to be paid back, investing in Further Education builds up one of the best engine rooms to help achieve that. "Pound for pound, investment in FE will do far more than investment in universities, to make the British economy competitive. "In the case of North Devon College, it has already spent �6 million over the last four years working up its plans for a new college campus, and is due to receive �75 million of LSC funding. "But worse than that, the new college is the centrepiece of wider developments which together amount to a �200 million regeneration of Barnstaple. If the college project is stopped I am fearful for the local economy in the short to medium term, and despondent about our prospects of digging ourselves out of the mess in the longer term." Commenting David Dodd, Principal at North Devon College said: "I know that we are delivering our part of this college's outstanding development and none of this would be possible without the continued hard work and dedication of staff and students. "We all play our part in delivering economic, cultural and social success through North Devon College. "We now look to the LSC and the Government to deliver on their commitments to a vision shared with many partners to invest in northern Devon and complete the journey we began four years ago


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