Strathclyde denies steel site claim

January 24, 1997

STRATHCLYDE University has denied an MP's claim that it is bidding to build on the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks now that St Andrews University has abandoned its plans for a university college.

Jeremy Bray, Labour MP for Motherwell South, revealed that the Lanarkshire Development Agency had turned down an approach by Strathclyde before opening negotiations with St Andrews in 1993.

St Andrews had been offering undergraduate teaching, whereas Dr Bray argues the area needs research and industrial contract work to create new enterprises and jobs.

Dr Bray said he had been urging Strathclyde for some time to submit fresh proposals to the development agency, which is coordinating an ambitious scheme to rehabilitate the site. "This they have done, and LDA is responding," he said.

But a university spokeswoman said this week that Strathclyde was not involved in discussions about the Ravenscraig site, although it would be looking at areas where it might work with the LDA and local industry to encourage industrial and commercial regeneration.

St Andrews has blamed the Government's student intake policy and lack of external investment for its decision to pull out of the development project.

An official statement said: "The university thought it proper to give the development agency due notice that for a number of reasons, including the present Government policy on the consolidation of overall student numbers, it cannot commit itself to this project."

St Andrews has been cautious from the start, warning before it began preparing an academic and business feasibility plan that the prospect of expanding into the west of Scotland "may indeed never reach fruition".

University secretary David Corner said that while St Andrews had been prepared to underwrite various budget elements such as equipment costs, it had told the development agency that major capital investment funds must be found elsewhere.

"That money was not in the end deliverable on the Ravenscraig site. It didn't amount to what the feasibility study said was necessary," Dr Corner said, but refused to be drawn on the sums involved. The university and development agency had "parted good friends".

A spokesman for the LDA said: "We have been aware for some time that St Andrews probably weren't going to proceed. We are disappointed, but we remain committed to the concept of an educational facility as part of the development."

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