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University of Cornwall News

8th January 1998

The following article appeared in today's The Cornishman:

MP slams Luddite view of campus bid

TIMOTHY James, the driving force behind the bid to stop the proposed £30-million university campus being built in Penzance, has said that he is confident that opponents to the plan will win.

Objectors have now stepped up their campaign by seeking worldwide support for their cause.

Exeter University is still waiting to hear the result of its application for European funding for the project.

Mr. James, whose home is in Penzance but who lives near Brighten and who works in London, heads the University of Cornwall Support Group which is totally opposed to the development of the Trereife site at Penzance.

The proposal, which may go to a planning inquiry later this year, involves building a campus with student accommodation and training workshops in the grounds of Trereife House.

The site was chosen as the best in Cornwall at the end of a lengthy consultation process for which there were more than 50 'contestants' throughout the county.

Part of the proposal also involves relocating Camborne School of Mines from its campus at Pool to the new university site which, claims Mr. James, would produce no net benefits for Cornwall but would further damage Europe's most depressed region.

He has insisted that the group, which has a membership of around 60, wanted a university built in Cornwall, but not at Penzance because it was too far west and the site was not large enough.

Mr. James added: "I think there is widespread support in Cornwall for our view. We are not as vociferous as the pro-Exeter lobby but I think we will win."

In a letter to Prof. Keith Atkinson, who is principal of Camborne School of Mines, Mr. James stresses: "The empathy for Camborne and Redruth is strong in the expatriate Cornish community.

"We will advise our members in Cornish associations worldwide of our continued opposition to the Exeter scheme and encourage them to continue the support for this group's opposition.

"Cornwall's best university prospects lie with Cornwall College and it is to this institution which Cornish funds should be directed," he added.

The group was formed in 1996 to voice its concerns over the plan to site the campus at Penzance.

"There is no doubt the persistence with the Penzance site has cost Cornwall up to £100 million in lost funding," says Mr. James. The Millennium Commission agreed with our concerns and rejected the Exeter proposals in total. They found it offered Cornwall little if any benefit."

He said the group would continue to oppose the Exeter scheme, which, says Mr. James "is now no more than the relocation of the Camborne School of Mines at public expense, and seeks to promote Cornwall College's scheme for a genuine University dispersed throughout Cornwall, but including Penzance."

He says the group will fight all the way "to stop Penwith poaching Kerrier's last major asset and Exeter obtaining valuable European funding for dis-investment in Kerrier to absolutely no benefit to Cornwall at all."

Last month Mr. James wrote to Exeter Universitys Vice-Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Holland telling him: "As you must surely know, the consensus view is that the Camborne School of Mines should not be relocated to Penzance.

"We have no wish to enter 1998 arguing against this site, when our efforts would be better employed supporting a joint initiative with Cornwall College and Exeter University on a site all of Cornwall can support."

St. Ives MP, Andrew George, a keen supporter of the Exeter scheme who, in the autumn, launched his own petition to support the plan, has accused Mr. James of taking "a Luddite approach to demolish the proposals without putting anything serious in their place."

Cornwall, he said, needed a physical university presence, not an Internet site, which had been suggested as an alternative.

The MP added: "I want to see a campus come to fruition as early as possible."

Mr. George has presented his petition to Government after obtaining thousands of signatures from the people of West Cornwall who support the proposed Penzance campus, believing it would provide a massive boost for the local economy.

Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1998

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