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The following article appeared in today's The Cornishman:
Campus cash under scrutiny
Exeter insists that it is still confident
A LEADING firm of accountancy consultants has expressed "a high degree of concern" over the viability of Exeter University's proposed campus plans for Penzance.
In a report which went before Kerrier Council's employment and economic development committee on Monday, KPMG say that the funding package is undeveloped - the project needs to secure gifts, sponsorship and borrowing of around £16.5 million. "If a significant part of this sum (estimated to be in excess of £750,000) has to be borrowed, the project does not appear able to sustain the consequent interest and loan capital repayments," it states.
However Exeter University disagree, insisting that the Cornwall Initiative is an exciting, achievable project for the region and say that negotiations with investors are well advanced.
The KPMG report claims that a firm funding package does not appear to be in place. Well over half of the funding is to be provided by commercial lenders, gifts and sponsorship, it says, and points out that there is no firm indication of specific sums being offered at this stage. "Significant levels of bank or other debt funding would place a large debt burden on the project," Kerrier council members were told.
"There is no doubt that the project would have considerable benefits for the district of Penwith," say KPMG.
The company is recommending that the project requires fundamental review and revision.
Exeter University's response expresses "content" that KPMG endorses the overall eligibility of the initiative for support under the ERDF, and reports that, as far as "financial problems associated with the matching funding of the bid" is concerned, they are actively pursuing additional funding for the project through the combination of donors, especially those associated with the mining community and financial interests in the building/investment sphere.
"We have already raised £300,000 in a very short period from mining firms. The money comes without strings, at a difficult point in the financial year for any commercial firm to donate, and in all cases is regarded as an immediate response and an indication of interest to donate more substantial sums as part of a funding package."
The University, it says, is continuing to work closely with all those concerned with regional development to seek to ensure that after CSM has moved, there remains a potential on the site for the development of future employment.
It adds: "it must however be made clear that that relocation is essential, that the School cannot remain on its present site if it is to retain its worldclass standing, and continue to develop in the interests of Cornwall. Its future in Cornwall is at risk without such a move."
Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1998
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Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original
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Last modification: 14th January 2002
Last information content change: 12th November 1998