It's up to the community

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:21 31/03/2014

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The community needs to decide what it wants for the future of Blenheim's secondary schooling and work to convince the Government to provide it, say both the town's MP and its mayor.

Kaikoura MP Colin King said the chance for the community to say what it wanted for secondary schooling was a "once in a 100 years opportunity".

"Marlborough really needs to focus on what it sees as the very best outcome for the region to help it towards realising its potential. That's very much about education."

His submission to facilitator Janet Kelly argued for a greenfields site on which both colleges would be located, he said. He also backed including tertiary education on the same campus, in what he called a uniquely Marlborough situation.

The colleges and the ministry confirmed last week more work would be done on three options, with the preferred one understood to be a site with the two colleges side by side and with a tertiary provider also on site.

"I think Marlborough has always done best when it has gone it alone. I see tertiary education as being involved to address our specific needs within the Marlborough region," King said.

He said he had talked with Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman about the option, but he hadn't talked with Education Minister Hekia Parata yet.

King said he had talked with Deputy Prime Mister Bill English about the consultation and he said the community needed to work out what was best for the region and then drive hard for it.

"I just trust that we really to push hard . . . It will take 90 per cent of effort to get over the line, but certainly worth it."

Sowman said news of the preferred option from the colleges and the ministry's meeting last week was good news.

"I'm heartened by that . . . If the greenfields option is a possibility we should look at it."

He said the crucial thing now was for the ministry and the Government to assure the community they were ready to do a business case on that option.

Sowman agreed with the Kelly report that the Marlborough District Council could have a role in acquiring land for a new colleges' site. The council had identified some sites, and needed to know what land area was needed and what the costs would be.

Overall, he said he was "encouraged".

He congratulated the school boards and principals for having an open mind on options and commended the ministry and minister for giving Blenheim the opportunity to decide its colleges' future. "We need to shore up our options, get community on board, and make it happen . . . We have the opportunity to get the right model, we could have the Marlborough model."

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