19 December 2002 Edition

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PUPs Hutchinson joins SF picket

PUP assembly member Billy Hutchinson joined a Sinn Fein picket calling for action to save the Springvale Campus in West Belfast. Hutchinson joined councillor Michael Ferguson on Wednesday 10 December at the protest organised to show community anger against the decision of the University of Ulster to withdraw funding from the project.

The picket was held outside a crucial meeting of the Springvale board at its offices on the Springfield Road.

The Campus, first announced in 1993 as a joint initiative between the University of Ulster (UU) and Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE), was hailed as the peace dividend for West Belfast. It was to address the need for increased student places in the Six Counties and foster social and economic regeneration in North and West Belfast.

The project was effectively killed off last month when the University of Ulster withdrew its support, leading community activists to accuse UU of not being committed to the project from the outset.

Councillor Ferguson said the people of the Shankill and Falls have been given 10 years of promises but were still as far away from opening of the campus as possible. "The University of Ulster cannot be allowed to walk away from its responsibility and let an entire community down."

MLA Billy Hutchinson said that the campus is of immense importance to the people of Shankill and was disappointed with the UU decision to "put a question mark over the future by withdrawing from the development".

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