Cotswolds MP accuses Government of Playing Politics with Disabled Students

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The National Learning and Skills Council has today announced the 13 Further Education Colleges that have received funding as part of their Further Education Capital Programme – and the National Star College has not been included – a move that Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has condemned as shocking.
The news comes following an announcement on 16 January this year that there was to be a moratorium on funding for further education projects with a re-evaluation of which projects could still be provided with funding.  Following the announcement earlier this year Mr Clifton-Brown called an adjournment debate in Parliament on the 11 March where he condemned the Government’s management of their accounts and allowing an “appalling discrepancy between the encouragement the Government offered colleges to develop and the capacity to actively financially support this.”
Mr Clifton-Brown has also accompanied Helen Sexton (Principal) and Peter Horne (Assistant Principal) from the National Star College for a meeting with the then Minister Sion Simon MP, where they were able to make a strong case as to why the National Star College deserved prioritisation for funding, and it is for the reasons highlighted in this meeting that the MP is so appalled by today’s announcement.
“The work of the National Star College as a specialist facility providing national support for students with complex physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and associated learning, sensory, medical, emotional and behavioural difficulties whose work is of immeasurable value to the students and their families – how the LSC can judge that this college is not one of their priorities absolutely beggars belief – I shall be contacting Geoff Russell the Chief Executive of the LSC immediately to ask for an explanation of their decision and clarification that the College will suffer no financial loss as a result of this.  I will also be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister, Kevin Brennan MP, to discuss this matter. ”
“What is clear is that in providing funds for 13 colleges in 13 Labour held seats the Government have sought not to help colleges but to help their Labour colleagues.  The sad consequence of this cynical act is that severely disabled people up and down the country will not be able to get access to the specialist education that the National Star College can provide.”
The College has already embarked on a large programme of development which has now been stalled.  In 2007 Geoffrey Clifton-Brown was invited, as the College Vice President, to open the Student Accommodation built at a cost of around £1m as part of phase 1 of the development.
Phase 2 of the development is currently very near to completion. There has been £3m of investment enabling infrastructure development, the introduction of biomass sustainable heating, a new access road, car parking, and improvement to the student accommodation.      
However, it is phases 3 and 4 that have been affected by this announcement.  Some £700,000 has already been spent in reaching the stage where these were ready for approval in detail and to start on site imminently with completion due in early 2010.
These are the most substantive phases of the development which will provide approximately £10.5m of specialist education and therapy facilities along with residential student accommodation for students with severe and
complex disabilities.

National Star College
Ullenwood,Cheltenham,Gloucestershire,GL53 9QU

Telephone 01242 527631
Fax 01242 222234
Email [email protected]
Website or

Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (MP Cotswold)

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