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University is needed

SOME 25 years ago, I, as Leader of Thamesdown (Swindon) Council, was heading an initiative to create a university for Swindon working with a consortium including the Council, locally based business and industrial leaders and key educationalists.

I retired from the Council in 1995 and despite several attempts since then we are still without a higher education institution (HEI) in the area.

At the same time that I was engaged in this campaign, other cities were similarly working towards a similar end and have succeeded - the best example is probably that of Lincoln that now has a well established university in the city.

Therefore, I very much welcome your report that the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), led by John Mortimer, is developing a strategy to create a ‘University of Wessex’ for the area that SWLEP covers.

This is a pragmatic proposal for a federal structure based on the existing provision of franchised degree courses offered by our local further education colleges and I can understand this strategic approach as it will be necessary to leverage on existing provision with the involvement of business and industry (including, I hope, the Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology in Malmesbury that works with Warwick University).

While I welcome and applaud the SWLEP initiative it is still important to create a university in Swindon as we are the only urban area of its population size in the country that does not host an HEI. A university will not only offer local young people the opportunity to study for degrees and so increase their employability, as well as providing a facility for lifelong learning for all, but it will have a significant economic impact of its own.

The Council must accord a high priority to the creation of a university for Swindon by including provision in its structure and economic development plans and start to work towards attaining this objective.

I am willing to continue to campaign for a university and I call upon our civic leaders across the political parties and business and industry leaders and educationalists to join together and work actively to achieve this much needed facility.

Tony Mayer, Wheatlands, Haydon Wick, Swindon

Respect the red bricks

REFERENCE the proposal to convert the Victorian building Clifton Street School into flats, may I respectfully suggest that the developer takes a look at the old school in Euclid Street, opposite the Civic Offices, which was successfully converted into flats some years ago without damaging or altering the Victorian facade in any way?

I would also agree that this developer be made to restore any damage done making sure he uses genuine Wiltshire red bricks and other materials (which are hopefully still on site) that were used at the time of the original construction of the beautiful building.

As someone who has spent many years as a quantity surveyor in the Heritage, Listed and Conservation Area, I know it can be achieved successfully.

Gerry Taylor, Newcastle Street, Swindon

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