Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP today accompanied Helen Sexton (Principal) and Peter Horne (Vice Principal) and Paul Styles (Vice Chairman) from the National Star College for a meeting with the Further Education Minister Kevin Brennan MP to press the Government to find the £6.5m needed to progress with the development of the College that has been cancelled by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
The meeting followed from a direct appeal by Mr Clifton-Brown during last weeks Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Clifton-Brown has today commended Helen Sexton and her team for the excellent presentation of their case made to the Minister. Kevin Brennan was able to hear of the highly specialised nature of the College and of the work that has already gone on at the site in preparation for the next phases of development that have been put on hold.
In particular the national importance of the National Star College was highlighted to the Minister. The College offers residential and non-residential training to the most severely disabled young people across the country providing them with a tailored educational programme and support. The work of the College is directly tied to raising the bar in the UK for the opportunities available to disabled people nationwide.
Speaking afterwards the MP said “This was a positive meeting. The Minister recognises that the College is unique, both through its work and the amount of charitable money that has been raised to match fund the stalled project, and simply couldn’t fit the restrictive criteria set by the LSC.”
“I believe he wants to see the College gets the funding and I believe the Prime Minister does too, unfortunately there is simply a lack of money and as such the Minister was very cautious with his words. However at this stage I feel confident that we are doing all we possibly can in keeping the pressure on and the profile of this situation high”
As a result of the meeting Kevin Brennan has resolved within two weeks to assess whether the money can be found from within other Departmental budgets and will write directly to Mr Clifton-Brown and to the College.
Mr Clifton-Brown is urging all those concerned by this situation to do all they can to continue putting pressure on by writing to their MP so they can forward these to Kevin Brennan to show the weight of support for the redevelopment. There is also an online petition available on the Number 10 website: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NationalStar/ which already has over 1800 signatures.
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