Government ‘favouring Labour areas’ in college building projects
The Conservatives have accused the Government of playing politics with the college funding crisis by approving major schemes only in Labour constituencies.
Just 13 college building projects totalling more than £700 million were finally given the go-ahead earlier this year after the Learning and Skills Council admitted it had run out of money.
They include Bournville College’s planned move to the former Longbridge car plant, which sits within the constituency of Labour’s Northfield MP, Richard Burden, and Sandwell College’s new £80 million campus in West Bromwich, which is within the Parliamentary seat of John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley.
In contrast, Sutton Coldfield College, which sits within the constituency of Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, will have to bide its time over plans for a new £42 million campus in Perry Barr.
Shadow universities and skills secretary David Willetts said: “It is inconceivable that the only college building projects which are necessary with an election due next year are the ones that happen to be in Labour areas.
“We are calling on ministers to reassess the criteria for college rebuilding so that it is fairer and more transparent.”
Mr Mitchell, Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, said: “Ministers are playing politics in this crisis. Only a select few Labour areas have received support, which is yet more proof that the Labour Government can’t be trusted with taxpayers’ money.”
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees the LSC’s work, said: “This was an open, objective process carried out by the Learning and Skills Council, not Government.”