Buying time for Rolle

THE town hall has backed taking out up to a �500,000 loan towards purchasing part of the Rolle College campus.

THE town hall has backed taking out up to a �500,000 loan towards purchasing part of the Rolle College campus.

Councillors of both political groups on Monday evening unanimously supported the principle of taking out a loan to invest in buying part of the site.

The Douglas Avenue site, closed last summer, has been divided up, so owners Plymouth University can maximise their profits.

In September, the county council reneged on a verbal pledge, made last spring, to invest millions into the site so it could be developed into a post 16 college and adult training centre.

Last week, the Journal reported that sixth form numbers at the community college could swell by nearly 40 percent to over 800 by 2014.

But a heavyweight delegation of cross party councillors, community groups, members of the public and community college governors waged an impressively co-ordinated appeal at county hall two weeks ago in a bid to get the decision overturned - this has been deferred to October 30.

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But there are real fears that, while the council's bureaucratic wheels are turning, Plymouth University could sell the site off to developers, so the town hall want to take matters into their own hands.

The loan, combined with approximately �125,000 offered by a local religious group, would give the town a serious stake in the future provision of post-16 education and adult training in the town.

Town clerk John Wokersien said: "It's very unlikely we would get a loan sanction of more than �500,000.

"We would have to be very clear what the community purposes would be to get that loan sanction."

He added, if successful, the loan, from the Public Works Loans Board, would be paid back through the council tax precept over a number of years.

Councillor Eileen Wragg said that there was an 'overwhelming body of support' from the public to acquire Rolle for the town's use.

Cllr Pauline Stott said: "This is what Exmouth needs. One way or another, we have to find the money."

Mayor Darryl Nicholas said: "It would do an injustice to the people of Exmouth, if we don't do everything we can.

"The key resource we are really after is time."

The council have set up a six-member Rolle college working party to investigate forming partnerships in the town to secure the site and develop a long- term strategy for educational and community use.