Failed last-ditch effort

A last-ditch effort was made by Exmouth Town Council and the Exmouth Community Association to force a rethink over Rolle College.

A last-ditch effort was made by Exmouth Town Council and the Exmouth Community Association to force a rethink over Rolle College.

On Monday night, town councillors unanimously backed Cllr Mark Williamson's call for county bosses to defer the decision - but this was flatly rejected by the county cabinet the next day.

In April, the county council said a feasibility study into Rolle would be commissioned, reporting back by September.

"Has there been a feasibility study published?" Cllr Williamson asked at the town council meeting on Monday. "I haven't seen it."

He said a report going to the cabinet was seemingly critical that the community had not submitted a business plan. "I know of no approach to this town council about working on a business plan," he said.

Town clerk John Wokersien confirmed: "At no time did we have a letter, email or phone call asking if we wanted to look at a business plan from the community's point of view."

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The chairman of Exmouth Community Association, Roy Pryke, wrote to the county council: "...without further consultation, and on the basis of a brief paper to your cabinet of four councillors, you seem to be about to decide that the county council is no longer interested.

"What alternative is the county council offering its largest town, as it takes over, from the Learning and Skills Council next April, responsibility for further education and training?"

Exmouth Mayor Darryl Nicholas said: "This is a sorry conclusion to a saga that should have been sorted out years ago.

"Plymouth University is a commercial enterprise and, as such, the human cost of jobs and future economic activity in Exmouth were always to going to play second fiddle to getting the right price for a site that they had been gifted for free.

"It would seem their honeyed words regarding their ongoing commitment and respect for Exmouth may have proven to be nothing more than empty rhetoric.

"Putting the commercial interest of Plymouth University aside, I can only presume that Devon County Council have a Plan B in mind.

"If they do not, then serious questions need to be asked - questions including how will they plan for the increase in student numbers when the compulsory leaving age is raised to 18?

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