ARAG UTC Proposal -Town Council Meeting
The Alsager Town Council met on Tuesday 14/05/2013, one of the items on the Agenda was their response to the ARAG proposal for a University Technical College(UTC). The proposal details can be seen here.
At the start of the ‘debate’ and before any discussion, the following motion was proposed.
- Alsager Town Council adheres to the Alsager Town Strategy and the Brief for the MMU site contained therein
The case for or against the establishment of a UTC needs to be resolved within the Education Community. At this stage it would be inappropriate for the Town Council to endorse any specific proposal
Alsager Town Council express clear support for the retention of the sports pitches and sports facilities on the site
A much more constructive alternative proposed motion was discussed during the meeting. The original motion was voted through however just as this alternative version was being discussed positively and this is now the Town Council position. This bureaucratic tactic then blocked any further discussion.
Residents will be interested to know that although letters of support from Residents had been received by the Town Council, no reference was made by the supporters of this motion to them or the level of support which we know they received. So much for “listening to the community all the time”.
Something as complex as establishing a University Technical College, involving: a University, the School, Major Business partners, Cheshire East, Central Government and funding bodies as it does, will clearly not be resolved by a nebulous ‘Education Community’. Such an exercise needs clear, strong leadership and commitment from elected responsible bodies.
It also needs to be made clear that the ARAG proposal was directed at achieving the main objectives for the MMU site in the Town plan: Mixed use, educational provision, retaining the sports fields, building within the Brownfield footprint, provision of a retirement village and achieving the required level of housing. This argument was put to the Town Council by the recently-elected independent Councillor.
When ARAG originally presented its proposal to the Town Council, Councillor David Brown, the deputy leader of Cheshire East Council was present. He was positive about the ideas but said ‘you have to let me know what you want’. This insipid response from the Town Council sends a clear message back to him and others that the Alsager Town Council does not want a University Technical College or the benefits one would bring to the community and in particular to the young people in our Town. It similarly sends a clear message to residents looking to improve our Town.
Far from being ‘inappropriate for the Town Council to endorse a particular proposal’ ARAG believes that this is exactly where the Town Council should be supporting constructive initiatives and providing some leadership. It is a disappointing outcome that such an important opportunity is not encouraged and supported by the Town Council. Without that support it is unlikely that either Cheshire East or our MP will support it. There will eventually be one or two UTCs in the area but this decision, taken for reasons best understood by the Town Council themselves, means that Alsager will not be home to one of them.
Residents, and in particular parents of pupils in our schools may wish to reflect upon the implications this will have for them at a time when school leaving age will rise for all.
We suggest that it might be appropriate to ask your elected representative what plans they have and are prepared to work on for the young people of Alsager in this environment, having taken this decision.