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From Telegraph + Argus, 14th September 2017
Written by Alistair Shand

KEIGHLEY College should sever links with Leeds City College, says the town’s MP. John Grogan said it should instead link-up with Shipley and Craven colleges. He said the new, so-called Airedale College had been recommended in Government-led area reviews of further education and sixth-form provision and had considerable support. But he accused Leeds City College of “holding out” against the move and has raised the issue in Parliament.

Mr Grogan said he is now seeking a meeting with a Government minister to discuss the issue.

Speaking during a Commons debate on further education, Mr Grogan said: “I urge the minister to look closely at the local area reviews for West and North Yorkshire because both concluded that Keighley should come out of Leeds City College and join-up with Craven and Shipley to form a new Airedale College.

“It would give Keighley College a greater identity and diminish competition between the three colleges in the Airedale area.

“Leeds City College is frustrating the process. It is putting a high price – possibly above £20 million – on Keighley College, which I understand was gifted in 2010.”

Mr Grogan said he is due to meet the Leeds City College principal, as well as representatives of local enterprise partnerships and councils.

He praised Keighley College as offering “hope, aspiration and opportunity” to hundreds of 16-to-19-year-olds annually.

He said it had close associations with the Industrial Centre of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering and the Fab Lab, and did much innovative work – often in association with Bradford Council.

But he felt the new set-up would give the college a “fresh start” so that it could do even more for young people in the future.

In response, Colin Booth, principal at the Leeds City College Group, insisted the move would not be beneficial.

He said: “Keighley College is growing in response to demand from employers, young people and adults.

“I am immensely proud of the staff team at Keighley and how it is continuing to improve the provision and range of courses available.

“The managers and staff at Keighley are very aware that they need to work closely with Shipley and Craven colleges to ensure the courses available along the Aire Valley meet everyone’s needs and to make sure there is not unnecessary competition between the colleges.

“I don’t think renaming Keighley College as Airedale College would create a clearer identity.

“I believe that the best way forward for Keighley College is to create a stronger reputation and identity for itself, as Keighley College."

“There are many ways to create partnership working and less competition among the colleges along the Aire Valley.”

Heather Whitehead, curriculum and operations director at Keighley College, added: “The college is currently growing significantly as a result of its engagement both with business and the local community and it will continue to seek to meet the needs of the local population.”