The Principal of Andover College, Tim Jackson, has been in touch with the Town's MP about the delay in the building programme.
Sir George said "The Learning and Skills Council have mismanaged the capital programme, by encouraging a large number of colleges to come forward with major building projects. They have now discovered they don't have funding for all of them, so have frozen 144 projects. One of these is the new Andover College."
"When Cricklade merged with Sparsholt College to form the new Andover College, part of the deal was a major capital programme for improvements both in Andover and Sparsholt. The size of the new investment envisaged at that time was £50m. Planning permission has been secured and the project is well advanced. The costs have risen because the LSC told the College to "raise its sights" and "plan for the 21st century". It is sheer incompetence to freeze the project at this late stage."
There is to be a debate next Wednesday in the House of Commons, when Sir George hopes to speak. (see later item)
Below is the text of the letter Sir George has sent to the Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, who has subsequently resigned.
Mr Mark Haysom
Learning and Skills Council
5th Floor, 103 New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1DR 16 March 2009
Our Ref : AND12471
Thank you for your letter dated March 13th, confirming the moratorium on capital spending for a number of colleges, including Andover College in my constituency.
This is deeply unsatisfactory, not least because the investment in the combined colleges of Cricklade and Sparsholt was a condition of the merger a few years ago. I and a number of other colleagues are hoping to raise the way the Capital programme has been managed in a debate in Westminster Hall.
There is an immediate and pressing problem, namely the treatment for accounting purposes of all the professional fees that have been incurred on the Capital programme. As I understand it, unless there is some indication that the project will go ahead, this expenditure has to be scored against revenue rather than against capital, which will put the college in to deficit. I believe that other colleges are in a similar position and I would be most grateful if this aspect of the problem might be urgently addressed.