A multi-million pound state-of-the-art training centre in inner city Ladywood has been moth-balled while Birmingham’s Labour council has its eye “off the ball,” Liberal Democrats have revealed.
The centre, which was opened at the prompting of Liberal Democrat councillors, provided modern training facilities in motor-mechanics and construction as well as other facilities on the door-step of an area with high youth unemployment.
Following a series of changes in Further Education, it has now been closed by South and City College, which took over its management five years ago from the former City College group. There are now “to let” hoardings outside the centre.
Local Ladywood campaigner Lee Dargue said: “I have made a commitment to get this centre re-opened, providing that any new owner can demonstrate how they will focus on helping some of the most disadvantaged young people obtain new skills, in Ladywood and across Birmingham.”
Lee, also a qualified teacher, continued “Locally, skills were a key priority when Jon Hunt, now leader of the LibDems group on Birmingham City Council, was instrumental in ensuring a skills centre was opened in Ladywood 12 years ago.
“Under Labour the city council has talked big on skills and youth unemployment. And yet this state of the art centre sits empty in the middle of the most deprived area of the city.
“I am actively working to get it brought back into use.”
Beverley Nielsen, the Liberal Democrats Mayoral Candidate for the West Midlands, has promised that Skills will be a key focus in all policy areas when she is elected as Mayor. “Young people deserve the best start in life, and this is exactly the kind of project we need to invest in our growing talent pool – making sure nobody is left behind. As Mayor, I will ensure our young people get that best start, and that their families and communities benefit too.”
On a visit to Birmingham, Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, added “I am distressed to see this marvellous centre sitting empty and unused. This is why the West Midlands needs new leadership, so there is less talk and more action.”
The Liberal Democrats have a history of success in skills and education, both nationally and locally, says Lee.
“Nationally, we delivered the pupil premium and free school meals, which have been proven to help close the ‘attainment gap’ – so we were helping the most disadvantaged children and teenagers”.
Lee finished: “We see the Conservative government focus education spending on helping very few, and locally Labour seem to have left the skills agenda behind. This has to change, and Liberal Democrats will ensure Education is a priority for our communities in Birmingham and the West Midlands.”