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Basford Hall

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

3. What assessment he has made of the effects of the retention of Basford hall, New college, Nottingham on higher and further educational provision in the area; and if he will make a statement. (205662)

The Learning and Skills Council has been working with the college to develop plans to rebuild the Basford hall site. The rebuilding will ensure an enhanced service and the extension of the provision of further and higher education in Nottingham.

My constituency sends the fewest people to further and higher education of any constituency in the United Kingdom. Last year, our local community, with the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, worked hard to retain our only further education college. Will the Under-Secretary now examine how fast the proposal to retain and revamp that site has progressed? Will he agree to meet me to ensure that no machinery of government changes, no problems about land swaps and mergers will stand in the way of one of the most educationally deprived communities in the UK retaining and enhancing its further education college?

My hon. Friend knows, because we have had such discussions in the past, that my constituency is just beneath his in terms of the number of young people who make their way to university. There are plans in his constituency for a merger, especially across the FE sector. Of course, I or my hon. Friend the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education will be happy to meet him to ensure adequate and appropriate provision for some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.

I am delighted that the Under-Secretary is aware of the possible merger of New college with two other colleges in the Greater Nottingham conurbation to create a super-college. Will he take steps to ensure that small campuses such as Basford and neighbouring Hucknall, where there is genuine disadvantage, are maintained and receive further investment?

The intention is to revamp and rebuild Basford precisely because it is in such a deprived neighbourhood and such work is necessary. I was pleased when I learned from the Learning and Skills Council that that would happen. Such decisions will come to Ministers in due course, but I hope that he senses sympathy from the Dispatch Box to the issues that Nottingham Members of Parliament continue to raise about the need for adequate provision for their constituents.