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Doncater's High Speed Rail College could be delayed over funding concerns

The opening of the National High Speed Rail College in Doncaster could be delayed if the government does not approve funding in the coming weeks, local politicians and business leaders have warned.

Doncaster’s executive mayor Ros Jones and Sheffield City Region chairmen Sir Stephen Houghton and James Newman have urged chancellor George Osborne to act quickly in releasing the £40m needed to help fund the college.

As first reported by the Yorkshire Post, the trio wrote to the chancellor, warning that if the funding was not agreed soon it could mean the project would not meet its opening date of September 2017.

Last year, Doncaster and Birmingham were chosen by ministers as co-host cities for the new college, aimed at developing the UK’s high speed rail expertise for HS2 and future projects.

Launching the scheme, prime minister David Cameron said the college was a crucial part of the government’s infratructure plan and would ensure the country had a “pool of trained workers with the right skills to draw upon for future projects”.

Both colleges will cost around £50m, with the colleges applying to government for £40m to help with this.

However, local leaders have said that this funding is still yet to have been agreed.

Doncaster Council confirmed that the letter had been sent but would not make any further comments.

In response to the claims, a government spokesman said that a decision on the funding would be made in due course.

The spokesman said: “National Colleges were invited to submit detailed business plans and funding requests to Government. Decisions will be based on the assessment of these plans and will be announced in due course.”

Mrs Jones said: “The National College for High Speed Rail will offer opportunities for our existing world-class rail firms to flourish, entice new private sector investment and firms to the town and importantly drive through economic growth and jobs not just for the borough of Doncaster but also the Sheffield City Region, Yorkshire and the north of England.”

Doncaster Council has already received a planning application for the three-story 7,200 sq m building.

It is expected that a decision on the application is expected towards the end of the year, with construction work set to begin in April 2016.

Willmott Dixon has been appointed the lead contractor for the design and build of the college.

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