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Inquiry call after college bid rejected

A councillor is demanding an inquiry into why a bid to create a University Technical College in Solihull has been rejected.

Councillor Nick Stephens
Councillor Nick Stephens

A councillor is demanding an inquiry into why a bid to create a University Technical College in Solihull has been rejected.

The Government turned down proposals from the council – and backed by the University of Warwick and Jaguar Land Rover – to open a UTC by 2016.

If successful, it would have joined the 50 other UTCs already open or in development around the country and created a specialist engineering college for 640 students aged 14-19 in north Solihull.

A new bid is now being revised and resubmitted in May while the anticipated opening date will remain 2016.

Education committee member Coun Nick Stephens (Lab, Chelmsley Wood) said he has heard that up to £250,000 had been spent on the proposals.

“I will certainly be putting questions to the cabinet member as to why we weren’t accepted,” he said.

“We were led to believe along that it was very hopeful.

“We have obviously spent quite a lot of money on this, I have heard as much as £250,000, putting it together and we need to make sure it hasn’t been wasted.

“So it’s very disappointing that it was turned down and we need to know why.”

A Solihull Council spokesman said they were not in a position to comment on the failed bid as their partners, Warwick University, were taking a lead on negotiations.

Dr Richard Hutchins, director of WMG Academy for Young Engineers at the university, said they have now been “actively encouraged” to bid in the next round in May.

“The minister Lord Nash has informed us that our ambition is commendable and that this is precisely the type of school he has been hoping to approve,” he added.

“Our first UTC, the WMG Academy for Young Engineers, is progressing well, the build is on-track and student recruitment is strong.

“We will be opening this school in September as planned and we can use this experience when developing the Solihull UTC.”

 

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