MP’s ‘outrage’ over UTC closure

University Technical College
University Technical College

Burnley MP Julie Cooper has criticised her predecessor Gordon Birtwistle for giving parents “unfounded optimism” over the future of Burnley’s doomed UTC Lancashire building.

The £10m. technical college in Trafalgar Street is to close in August after just two years – and Mrs Cooper said the priority now must be to find alternative education for those children affected.

The Labour MP criticised her Liberal Democrat predeccesor Gordon Birtwistle for giving parents unfounded optimism in a meeting at the college by offering to speak to Nick Boles, the Minister of State for Skills.

Mrs Cooper said: “I want the UTC to remain open as much as anybody, but I don’t think it’s fair to give parents unfounded optimism.

“I emailed Nick Boles’ office when I heard of Gordon’s intervention, and was told there had been no change regarding the future of the UTC.”

The email from Nick Boles’ office said: “I would hope that these rumours wherever they have come from are not left to run as to create unfounded optimism and further disappointment.”

Mrs Cooper revealed she was in talks with interested parties in investing in the building.

She added: “It’s outrageous that the UTC is being closed after just two years. I am against academy-type education and this is one reason why.

“A local authority school would never close halfway through a child’s education. This government flagship institution has failed.”

Lancashire UTC is the fourth such college to close in recent months after Hackney, Walsall and Bedfordshire announced they were struggling to recruit enough pupils.

Mr Birtwistle said: “I did not want this to close without a fight. I’ve called Nick Boles six times without reply so it doesn’t look promising.

“The parents asked me to help and at least I tried.”