Newton Aycliffe technical college plan is a 'missed opportunity' for nearby Darlington (From The Northern Echo)
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Plans for engineering college widely welcomed
8:00am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
PLANS to create a centre of engineering excellence represent a ‘missed golden opportunity’, according to the mayor of the town that rejected the chance to build it.
The response to plans for a University Technical College (UTC), in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, announced last week, has been overwhelmingly positive.
For Darlington mayor Charles Johnson, it was a case of what might have been.
Coun Johnson was part of the team which which put together a bid in favour of a UTC in Darlington, proposals for which were shelved last year.
He welcomed the prospect of a UTC in Newton Aycliffe, which will train hundreds of would-be engineers from around the region each year, but added: “I was quite cross that we did not take up the challenge, work hard and get the bid in for Darlington.
“We would have got a substantial grant and were looking at properties in the town, but some schools were for it and some were not.
“People from Darlington are still going to be able to get to Aycliffe, but I just feel like we have missed a golden opportunity.”
The announcement has been widely welcomed elsewhere. Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said: “Not all young people want to go to university and apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular for those looking to forge a career in industry.
“I want to work with businesses and the education sector to produce the best possible opportunities for young people in Newton Aycliffe. Having a training centre of excellence on our doorstep can only be a good thing.”
Councillor Bob Fleming, leader of Great Aycliffe Town Council, added: “Success breeds success and the more firms that come to Newton Aycliffe, the more attractive it becomes to other companies. I think the college will have the same effect, as it will produce the workforce these firms need.”
Simon Goon, managing director of regional investment group Business Durham, said: “Having a higher education facility such as this in the south of County Durham adds to our message that things really are happening there, Newton Aycliffe being the nucleus of the growing industrial sector regionally.”
Hitachi, which will open an £82m train factory in Newton Aycliffe in 2016, was one of the employers to support the scheme, which will be part of the University of Sunderland. Plans are due to be submitted to the Department for Education next month.
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