Portsmouth MP urged to lobby government for more money in UTC bid

An artist's impression of how the University Technical College will look
An artist's impression of how the University Technical College will look
Brian and Jean Crabb

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BOLD plans to create Portsmouth’s first University Technical College have taken a big step towards becoming a reality – with the government now holding the key to finally making it happen.

The council’s planning committee tonight approved the creation of the specialist facility on the site of Trafalgar School in Hilsea, which would train the next generation of aspiring electrical and mechanical engineers and workers with advanced manufacturing skills.

What we have here is an educational establishment to train our young people in the various skills that this country lacks at the moment.

Councillor Ken Ellcome

But Whitehall must now have the final say over whether the £11m project happens, because Sport England raised concerns the site would be built on a section of playing fields and see the loss of one full-size football pitch.

The body also wanted to see a sports hall being created having four courts, as opposed to three, but there isn’t enough money available to extend it.

The government has to decide what to do as national policy stipulates playing fields should be protected where possible. The planning committee also agreed Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt should be called upon to secure money from the government to build a bigger sports hall, after it was suggested by Lib Dem councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

But approval came despite a lengthy debate about traffic and the expected increase in capacity on the road network.

Welcoming the scheme, Tory Ken Ellcome said: ‘What we have here is an educational establishment to train our young people in the various skills that this country lacks at the moment.

‘It’s looking at the future. Our youngsters need this expertise and support.’

The council’s highways engineer said traffic journeys along London Road and Copnor Road northbound would increase by an extra minute when taking into account when the UTC would be at full capacity – with 600 students and 45 staff – and if Trafalgar met its capacity of 1,100 places. But delays along Norway Road east towards the Portsbridge roundabout would increase by three minutes in the morning rush hour and five minutes in the evening.

But Cllr Ellcome said those times were the ‘worse case scenarios’.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The support the provision of this facility as it will help develop educational attainment. But the MP for Portsmouth North should put on pressure and rattle a few cages in the ministry for education to get the extra money.’