D-Day for Rolle College future

TODAY sees the final roll of the dice by campaigners trying to salvage Rolle Campus for use as a post-16 college - and stop it being sold to developers.

TODAY sees the final roll of the dice by campaigners trying to salvage Rolle Campus for use as a post-16 college - and stop it being sold to developers.

Two weeks ago, the county council reneged on a verbal pledge last spring to help buy the Douglas Avenue campus from owners Plymouth University

This led to an angry backlash by supporters of all political hues, calling for the decision to be scrutinised - a process which takes place this morning (Thursday) at County Hall.

The depth of feeling was illustrated last Saturday when an impromptu petition backing the plans in the Magnolia Centre, gained more than 600 names in just six hours.

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Now, a heavyweight delegation of councillors from both main groups, the town clerk and mayor, the principal of the community college and governors will launch a last-ditch charge to get the decision overturned.

At this week's town council meetingc Lib Dem county councillor Eileen Wragg said the town council was not even consulted: "I do believe this was an autocratic decision.

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"We were promised a feasibility study.

"The wishy-washy report given to the (county council) cabinet was embarrassing."

Tory Mark Williamson said: "Policies should not be on a 'don't want, don't like' basis, it should be evidence-based.

"Nobody I know has seen the feasibility study. Is there any evidence? The answer is that we simply don't know."

Tory county councillor Bernard Hughes, at a Lympstone Parish Council meeting this week, criticised his own group and said Exmouth Community College did not have the capacity for the expected extra students it would have to provide for in about 18 months' time.

"If they are not going to buy Rolle College and develop that, they have to make provisions somewhere else. I don't know whether it will happen.

"I understand that it has to find room for an extra 200 to 300 more pupils. It was originally 400 new spaces.

"The Government has said that post-16 education will be the responsibility of community colleges and that means Exmouth will have quite a large number of extra pupils."

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hughes said it was time the council stopped any discussion about the redundant site possibly being used for social housing.

He added: "It is time for them to pick up the baton and create the extra buildings required to house those sixth formers ...if we can't have Rolle College, we have to do something else and do it very quickly."

Exmouth Mayor Darryl Nicholas said: "From day one, the process has been shambolic. This should have been sorted out five years ago, as soon they knew they were going to sell it.

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