Wakefield College's funding bid failed

THERE was more disappointment for Wakefield College this week after its bid for funding for a university centre failed.

It is the second blow for the college since July, when bosses learned it would not be getting funding from the Learning and Skills Council for a new 75m Margaret Street campus, despite shocking statistics and planning permission to back up its bid.

John Foster, the college's deputy principal in charge of finance and resources, said: "It is another disappointment, but we already have a strong focus on higher education at the college with a range of degree courses on offer.

"Higher education will have a huge part to play in our plans for the Margaret Street Campus, which are moving forward.

"The original concept was right before, and it is still right now, so we will find a way to deliver those plans, albeit at a slower pace.

"We are not going to be able to rebuild Margaret Street completely, but there will be new-build elements to it as well as refurbishment.

"We are also looking at acquiring buildings on the periphery of the site."

Mr Foster said some of the funding was already in the bank from the sale of the Whitwood Campus, and that some would have to be borrowed.

He added: "The successful bid for the university centre would have brought with it higher education funding and funding from Yorkshire Forward, which we now have to compensate for so that we can still do it all in one fell swoop. We know we are not going to get a look in where LSC funding is concerned for at least the next three years and we cannot stand still."

Planning permission for the new campus was granted earlier this year after planning and highways committee members heard how 39.14 per cent of the district's population had no qualifications.

Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: "We are disappointed to hear this news, which comes so soon after funding was seemingly withdrawn for the college's regeneration plans.

"We will work with the college to support their aspirations for a university centre and look at ways they can achieve this in the future."

l See Comment, page 22.