Joan McAlpine MSP has criticised councillors in the Dumfries and Galloway Labour Group for their opposition to locating a new learning hub for Dumfries at the Crichton Campus.

Ms McAlpine said their politically motivated behaviour would damage young people’s chances and job opportunities.

SNP member for the South of Scotland Ms McAlpine, who has an office in Dumfries said:

“I don’t understand why some Labour members of the council seem hostile to the Crichton.  A learning hub at the Crichton would give young people access to the college.  That is a tremendous opportunity and would make Dumfries a leader in the development of vocational education. 

“I recently visited the college to see their engineering department, which is part of a Scotland-wide network training students to work in the energy industries.  That offers a fantastic opportunity to teenagers.  The recent report into young people’s training by Sir Iain Wood recommended closer working between schools and colleges and a learning hub at the Crichton is very much in that spirit.

“The hub would also expose young people to the opportunities afforded by higher education because of the universities on site. Students from the south west of Scotland have a high drop out rate when they leave the region to attend university, while many who do complete their courses never return.

“The campus offers Dumfries a unique opportunity to address that problem – we need young people to start and grow the businesses of the future.  Universities in particular are a recognised stimulus to economic activity so we are lucky to have them here.  That is why the SNP Government stepped in to save the Crichton Campus when it was under threat a few years ago.  The Government have continued to support the campus and fund additional student places.  Offering to finance a unique learning hub at the campus was a development of that enlightened approach.

She added:

“At a time when the Scottish Government’s block grant is being slashed by Westminster, that was a generous offer.  When someone makes you a generous offer you don’t start nit-picking to make a political point.  Certain councillors should put their resentment of the SNP aside and put young people and economic opportunity first.

“Only in the strange world of the Labour party could an offer of support be seen as bullying.”