Labour and Tories clash over 'missed opportunity' college plans

Labour and Tories clash over 'missed opportunity' college plans

UTC SUPPORT: Councillor Alan Coultas, Conservative

'NO APOLOGY': Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Labour

First published in News
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COUNCILLORS have clashed over aborted plans to create the region’s first engineering centre of excellence in Darlington.

Alan Coultas, a member of the opposing Conservative group on Darlington Borough Council, was among the supporters of plans for a university technical college (UTC) in the town.

Those plans foundered in 2012 after years of discussions, with those behind the scheme lamenting a "missed opportunity" for Darlington.

The Northern Echo revealed this week that plans for a UTC in Newton Aycliffe, backed by the University of Sunderland, have been revived, after being snubbed earlier in the year.

A UTC is a vocational college for teenagers, sponsored by a university, which works with businesses in shaping studies tailored towards technical subjects.

At a full meeting of the council on Thursday (March 20) evening, Coun Coultas expressed support for the Aycliffe bid.

During the meeting, he challenged Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Labour’s cabinet member for children and young people, to apologise for opposing plans for a UTC in Darlington.

Speaking to The Northern Echo afterwards, Coun Coultas said: “The UTC looks very likely to happen on our border and we support that.

“We were down the line before Aycliffe got to this stage and it could have been here in Darlington.

“Darlington passed on a big opportunity and people need to understand that.

“Coun Hughes was front and centre in opposing this, we think for the wrong reasons.

“I asked her to apologise for the position she took and for her lack of support in her position as portfolio holder for children.”

Opponents to plans for a UTC in Darlington said it could have threatened schools in the borough, by diverting students interested in engineering subjects.

Coun Hughes said: “Local authorities are committed to supporting opportunities for young people, and for that I make no apology.

“We have strong partnerships with schools and employers in the borough, and for that I make no apology.

“Raising literacy and numeracy skills is the best way to prepare young people for employment.

“Newton Aycliffe is not on the moon. If some of our young people want to access the UTC, wonderful.

“I don’t see a problem with that, if parents want that for their children.”

Comments (3)

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11:30pm Fri 21 Mar 14

martinjw says...

Councillor Hughes says “Newton Aycliffe is not on the moon. If some of our young people want to access the UTC, wonderful. “I don’t see a problem with that, if parents want that for their children.”
It is about time she recognizes who pays her over inflated wages, it not the public sector workers, even though they work hard for their money they do not create it. It is the engineers and the factory workers who go to work and make things that create it.
All those workers who she openly sneers at should think hard about voting her in again.
Councillor Hughes says “Newton Aycliffe is not on the moon. If some of our young people want to access the UTC, wonderful. “I don’t see a problem with that, if parents want that for their children.” It is about time she recognizes who pays her over inflated wages, it not the public sector workers, even though they work hard for their money they do not create it. It is the engineers and the factory workers who go to work and make things that create it. All those workers who she openly sneers at should think hard about voting her in again. martinjw
  • Score: 5

9:58am Sat 22 Mar 14

LUSTARD says...

what a woman, where does she come from the outbacks of deepest america,how can a member of the public make a complaint about this and to whom, should i make an appointment with our local mp
what a woman, where does she come from the outbacks of deepest america,how can a member of the public make a complaint about this and to whom, should i make an appointment with our local mp LUSTARD
  • Score: 2

11:05am Sun 23 Mar 14

Alan Macnab says...

I fully support Councillor Alan Coultas on this. The UTC should have come to Darlington. Councillor Cyndi Hughes in wrong. Young people chose their options for GCSE at 14 so they should be given the chance to chose to take a technical option at the same age? Perhaps the situation can be redeemed by an outreach from the UTC in Darlington to cater for the young people aged 14 and above who want to follow this path. I suppose this will result in Darlington Labour Councillors hiding behind anonymous names attacking me on here.
I fully support Councillor Alan Coultas on this. The UTC should have come to Darlington. Councillor Cyndi Hughes in wrong. Young people chose their options for GCSE at 14 so they should be given the chance to chose to take a technical option at the same age? Perhaps the situation can be redeemed by an outreach from the UTC in Darlington to cater for the young people aged 14 and above who want to follow this path. I suppose this will result in Darlington Labour Councillors hiding behind anonymous names attacking me on here. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 2

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