We must not Rolle over

The prospect of a great new project for the town at Rolle College has not disappeared, but it is under serious threat unless we act together.

The prospect of a great new project for the town at Rolle College has not disappeared, but it is under serious threat unless we act together.

What we have is a recommendation from the Cabinet of Devon County Council to the county council. The decision will be made when the county council meets on December 10. So there is still time to convince those who serve us as elected councillors that the project to use Rolle as a centre for further education, vocational training, adult education and community Activities, particularly the arts, not only makes sense but is good value for money.

The recommendation will be called in by the county council's scrutiny committee next month. We shall have the chance to ensure that their deliberations are based on fuller information than was presented to the Cabinet.

The Exmouth Community Association is working together with other town organisations in support of the town council to turn this round. So far, there has been no consultation with any of us by the county Council.

Our arguments are strong. In brief they are:

1. Exmouth is more than a commuter/retirement town. It is also a working town - the biggest in Devon. We have a school population which makes our excellent community college the largest in Europe, and it will shortly have about 600 16-18 year olds. The 'sixth form' will rise to about 800, ignoring any who come in from neighbouring localities, when all stay on in education and training under new government legislation. This will produce the finance from Government to run a wide range of courses to suit all interests and abilities and in collaboration with Exeter College and Bicton College. The plans have already been drafted, because at present there is no dedicated further education provision in Exmouth

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2. Next year, DCC takes over responsibility for further education from the Learning and Skills Council. Under the Rolle project, all of Exmouth's students would be able to study here rather than travel to Exeter or Bicton. They would be able to do work-related courses in Exmouth, meeting skills needs identified by our chamber of commerce as necessary to support the development of local businesses. The Rolle project is the answer DCC should be seeking to the challenge of providing for this age group, to prevent them joining the growing numbers of NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) with all the personal and social problems that causes.

3. If Rolle is not purchased, the county council will soon have to provide more buildings on the already crowded community college sites. The price of �3m for the main buildings seems good value, when it includes the impressive theatre/exhibition/conference building built at a cost of �3m of our money just six years ago. Even if the project were to fail, DCC would have an asset to market. So there is no real risk.

4. Just five months ago, the county's top financial people advised that the purchase was affordable. What has suddenly changed apart from a lack of will to support Exmouth?

5. If Rolle is not purchased, Exmouth is left high and dry with no solutions to address the capacity problems of the community college. Generations of lively and achieving students will have been failed by our political masters.

We hope that all of the residents of Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Lympstone, Woodbury and the outlying villages, who have children or grandchildren or those who have a interest in training for businesses, or seek opportunities for themselves in dance, drama, painting or pottery or who just want a decent place for community meetings, will join our fight to retain Rolle for Exmouth.

Please write soon to Councillors John Hart and Christine Channon at County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QH and to your local county councillors Bernard Hughes, Brenda Taylor and Eileen Wragg to give your views and to ask for proper consultation on this issue. Exmouth must not be 'rolled over' again!

Roy Pryke,

(via email)