West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper welcomed Further Education Minister, John Hayes MP to the site of the new £42 million Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College.
The visit follows a commitment from the Minister to come to the town after an invitation from Rosie when they met on the 21st October to discuss the £4 million funding shortfall.
Initially the £4 million had been committed to the project by the North West Development Agency but no contract had been signed. The funding was lost when the Coalition Government abolished Regional Development Agencies.
“I thank the Minister for taking the time to visit West Lancashire and to see firsthand the new state-of-the-art college that is becoming a recognisable feature on the Skelmersdale skyline.
“However, the contracts have been let, building work is well advanced, the furniture is made and students are due to start in September 2011. The college, having acted in good faith, now find themselves without enough money to pay for the project!
“When we met in October the Minister gave us a commitment to look at the funding situation in-depth and to explore any possible options. I trust that this visit will demonstrate why this scheme is so important to the people and place of West Lancashire.
“The Minister can be assured that I will continue to lobby for the £4 million funding shortfall to be found as I believe that the young people of West Lancashire should have access to a high-quality learning facility.”
Rosie took the opportunity to highlight the vital role the new college will play in offering the young people of West Lancashire a hand-up as they strive to achieve their ambitions and aspirations and to reinforce that the college is at the heart of Skelmersdale’s regeneration.
Rosie initially raised the funding shortfall with the Prime Minister on the 15th September asking for the Conservative led Government to review the college’s situation.
In June 2009 Skelmersdale and College had its funding commitment withdrawn by the then Learning and Skills Council.
Rosie successfully campaigned and lobbied hard to secure the necessary funding for the scheme which was reinstated. She will continue to campaign for this £4m shortfall to be made up by the Government possibly from RDA assets