Scunthorpe stores hope £10m college will bring trade into town centre
Plans for a proposed £10 million college in Scunthorpe have been met with surprise and some opposition from the North Lincolnshire community.
Last week, the Scunthorpe Telegraph exclusively reported North Lincolnshire Council is preparing to submit a formal bid to the Government’s Department for Education for a university technical college in Church Square.
It is set to create at least 50 jobs when open, as well as a significant number of positions in the construction phase.
If given the go-ahead, the facility will be created and operated in partnership with the University of Hull and a range of industry partners.
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The Government funded college would have around 600 students aged 14 to 19 and have a focus on engineering and renewable energy.
The first intake at the Scunthorpe campus is planned for September 2014, with around 60 per cent of students to be enrolled from within North Lincolnshire.
The remainder would be bussed into Scunthorpe from places such as Hull, Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and Doncaster to reduce the impact on numbers at local schools.
Becky Murrell, deputy manager at Greenwoods Menswear on Scunthorpe’s High Street, said: “It will be bringing footfall into the town.
“It could also bring new businesses into the town and it would bring new shops.
“It could be fairly positive for Greenwoods, as that age group will always need shirts and suits.”
Ben Lister, assistant manager at Sports Direct on the High Street said the college would be a positive thing for the store.
He said: “As far as trade goes, it would be an obvious benefit for us. Purely from a profit point of view, students bring money in.
“It can only bring an influx of money into the high street.”
David Redmile, owner of Cindy’s Accessories on Cole Street in Scunthorpe, said he believed the location for the proposed college was wrong.
He said: “I was gobsmacked to see it – I think it is the wrong place for a college.
“I am all for development in the town but I don’t think the town centre can be compared to Lincoln, Leeds or Sheffield.
“The site in question is prime retail space. To put a college there seems ludicrous. The space would be better used for retail and I don’t think we even need another college.”
Eddie Lodge, secretary of the Scunthorpe Renaissance Town Team, said: “Essentially, our reaction is that while a major development will serve to populate the town, there is an issue over whether students have the disposable income to have an impact on the town.
“We are not against the idea though.”
Des Comerford, owner of Fallen Hero in Scunthorpe and chairman of Keep Scunthorpe Alive, said he welcomed any investment in North Lincolnshire.
He said: “To bring a college to North Lincolnshire, with hundreds of students coming in, is an excellent idea.
“We have to embrace education to teach skills for future jobs.
“I welcome any investment in North Lincolnshire but we need to gauge the thoughts of the community on these plans.”
Opposition Labour group leader Mark Kirk said: “We broadly welcome the bid for further educational support for North Lincolnshire’s young people.
“It would be an excellent outcome if we were to build and improve even further on our existing skills base, as that would be of great benefit to the area in the long term.
“In taking this initiative forward, we need to be confident that any proposals complement our existing educational programmes and do not jeopardise them in any way.”
Anne Tyrrell, principal of North Lindsey College, which has been involved in discussions about the proposed college, along with John Leggott College, said: “The college is very supportive of this initiative and we need to ensure that this complements existing provision and enables young people to gain the technical skills needed by local employers, now and in the future.”
“Of course there will need to be further detailed work involving all partners and wider consultation to fully assess the benefits and the impact on local schools in particular.”
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said: “I welcome any idea to bring invigoration to Scunthorpe, but this idea has just been launched and there needs to be a lot of work and consultation with everybody before we know whether it’s right or not for the area.
“It’s quite clear to me, having worked in the education service locally for almost 30 years, that there needs to be a full consultation with parents, young people, schools and colleges to see whether this is the right thing to happen at this particular time and whether it is in the best interests of the young people in the Scunthorpe area and potential employers.”
And shoppers on the High Street gave their views on the proposed college.
Rita Smith, from Ashby, said: “I think bringing business to the town is a good idea.”
Tony Smith, from Winterton, said: “If it does go ahead, I think it is a good idea.”