A MULTI-MILLION pound deal which will see a new university technical college (UTC) take over part of Burton Town Hall has developed into a political row after council chiefs were accused of selling the building on the cheap.
Members of the East Staffordshire Independent Group, who defected from the controlling Conservative Party last year, hit back at accusations from the Tories that they attempted to ‘deprive young people’ of a college, aimed at them after they voted against the sale at a behind-closed-doors meeting.
The college is due to open in September 2015 and will place emphasis on training young people for a career after education.
The car park has also been sold along with the building, with chiefs admitting ‘work would need to be done’ to overcome fears about parking and congestion.
Following the meeting, where the £8 million sale was rubber-stamped, the borough council’s standards chairman Mick Bowering said: “It is regrettable that the ex-Conservative independent councillors sought to deprive our young people and community of this fantastic opportunity.”
But the members of the independent group said their opposition was nothing to do with scuppering plans for a new college.
Independent group member Malcolm Barrett said: “It’s very simple. I did not think it was the best value for that building. I made that clear at the meeting.”
Fellow independent member Robert Hardwick accused the Conservatives of playing ‘silly politics’ and said there were a number of other aspects surrounding the sale that needed to be taken into consideration.
He said: “My concern is there are implications that haven’t been addressed such as the number of parking spaces at the town hall.
“Another element is it that it is an extremely small site. In an ideal world, they would have wanted a larger site but the UTC was desperate to find somewhere and the borough council was desperate to sell an asset. But of course we want the UTC, we welcome anything that improves education in East Staffordshire.”