A report on the amalgamation proposals of the Northern Regional College is set to be compiled by the end of November.
The document, which will be sent to DEL, will address the Outline Business Case (OBC) for a replacement of the two campuses in Coleraine and Ballymoney with one on a new site in the new Causeway Coast and Glens area.
The issue was raised following a telephone interview with Paul Morris of Deloitte and the Chief Executive John Dempsey in September over the Ballymoney Campus’s amalgamation proposals.
The Development report explained: ‘The task set for Deloitte is to prepare by end of November a report to DEL on the Outline Business Case (OBC) for a replacement of the two campuses in Coleraine and Ballymoney with one on a new site in the new Causeway Coast and Glens area. (They are also looking separately at rationalising three sites to one in Ballymena).
‘The Chief Executive outlined Council’s opposition to any removal of NRC provision from Ballymoney. This was its stance in earlier consultations in 2004 and 2010 and had not changed subsequently. In both instances Council was supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the local secondary schools. ‘Reasons included loss of jobs and investment in the borough, less opportunities for employers to avail of training for workers and for young people to obtain vocational qualifications, reduced spend in town centre shops and cafés and lack of public transport links to an out of town replacement site.
‘The Chief Executive also highlighted the need to align DEL’s review of Regional College provision with DE’s review of secondary education, as Regional Colleges provide much needed options for vocational A-level courses. Carrying out separate reviews without considering overlaps risks not making best use of limited public resources.
‘While the difficulties with current buildings and the restricted opportunities on the existing Ballymoney site are acknowledged, Council believes that other options exist for a new site in town (e.g. Linenhall Street or options on Knock Road) retaining the bus and rail access currently available and with good links to the retail core.
‘It was also pointed out that centralising of facilities in larger towns flies in the face of decentralisation by DARD (to Ballykelly) and by DOJ (to rural Cookstown for the new training college).
‘Finally the need for councils and councillors to be consulted on any proposals emerging from the OBC work was emphasised. Mr Morris noted the points made and stated that he was not aware that DEL had secured any site for a new college in the Causeway area.
‘He believed that PPP/PFI was still an option for delivery of a new campus and that possible sites in Ballymoney would be considered in preparation of the OBC. Committee noted the report.’
In response Cllr Ian Stevenson urged Council to ‘continue lobbying to keep the campus here in Ballymoney’ adding ‘we should put it on the next meetings agenda’.