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MP bids to prevent shutdown of college.

A NORTH MP yesterday urged church leaders to reconsider the closure of a Roman Catholic college in her constituency. North West Durham MP Pat Glass compared the closure of Ushaw College near Durham to the controversial decision by Church of England Commissioners to sell off the valuable collection of Zurbaran paintings at Bishop Auckland.

Mrs Glass submitted an Early Day Motion in Parliament which was supported by eight other MPs, including fellow North East members Roberta Blackman Woods, Kevan Jones, Mary Glindon and Ian Mearns.

EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, used for drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.

Mrs Glass's motion reads: "That this House expresses concern about the proposed closure of Ushaw College in North West Durham; notes that Ushaw College is a Roman Catholic college, home to St Cuthbert''s Seminary which has been forming young men for the priesthood since its foundation more than 400 years ago and which holds a library that is priceless to the heritage of Catholicism in England and the North East.

"It further notes the importance of Ushaw College in the local community and the concerns that local people have at the closure announcement; and supports calls for this decision to be reconsidered."

The MP, who has also written to archbishops and bishops to ask them to reconsider their decision to close the college, said: "The news about the proposed closure of Ushaw College comes on top of the recent threat to Auckland Castle and the Zurbaran paintings.

"At a time when the coalition Government's cuts to the arts are hitting the North East disproportionately, it is my opinion that we have a duty to protect our historic buildings and heritage here in the North East. Ushaw College is greatly important to my constituents and the local community. " Two months ago, trustees announced a proposal to close the college next June, pending consultation with employees and the Charity Commission.

Their decision came after college directors failed to find a "development partner" to use part of the site as a school, university or hotel and share the costs.

Ushaw College, founded at Douai, France, trained hundreds of seminarians decades ago, but now has only 26 students in formation.

It raises extra funds by functioning as a conference centre, but its vast grounds and ancient buildings mean it is expensive to run.


PLEA MP Pat Glass
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2010
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