MP distances himself from failing Bilston

March 5, 1999

Labour MP Dennis Turner is standing firm as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for further education, despite a report this week that implicates him in a severe college crisis.

Mr Turner, backbench MP for Wolverhampton South East, has been a governor at Bilston Community College for more than 20 years and is now its vice-chairman. This week, the future of the Birmingham college was in doubt following the inspection report from the Further Education Funding Council.

The governors at the college were condemned with the worst possible inspection grade for governance. The worst marks - which show "many weaknesses" - were also given for the college's quality controls and management.

A funding council inquiry committee has been sent into the college to consider its future, and a new management team led by principal Alan Birks is already in place. But ministers are expected to demand the mass sacking of the governors, or the closure of the college.

In a statement this week, Mr Turner distanced himself from the problems. He said that his "onerous" parliamentary duties had prevented him from "detailed involvement in the college".

He said he would give evidence to the committee of inquiry, and would "liaise closely with ministers".

"After this I shall have discussions with Alan Birks as to how he identifies the role he will wish me to play in the future," he said.

Want to blow the whistle?

Contact Phil Baty on 0171 782 3298 or email him onpbaty@thes.co.uk

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