A KEY supporter of the controversial plan to build a skills centre in Feltham High Street has had second thoughts about the plan – accusing Hounslow Council of 'dirty tricks' in picking the site.
Cllr Peter Hills, who moved the motion to approve the development at last month's planning committee meeting, has now said he is unhappy with the location, which he says was imposed on councillors by the Tory administration.
The West Thames College proposal to build a new skills centre in place of the Feltham Community Association building was passed by seven votes to six so, had Cllr Hills voted against it, the plans would have been dead in the water.
In an interview with the Chronicle, the college's head teacher Marjorie Semple said it was the council who chose the current site, ruling out all other potential locations.
West Area Independent Cllr Hills said: “I can't say I am happy about it being in the High Street – definitely not – but it was all that was on offer. There are a lot of old people living nearby and I would have thought it would be terrible for them.
“The whole thing doesn't make sense. The reality is the council decided they didn't want it at De Brome so, without consulting anyone, they decided to put it in Feltham town centre.
“It's dirty tricks at its worst and the people are the ones who are going to lose out on this.”
The protracted debate about a site for a skills centre has been rumbling since February 2007 when the college applied for a grant from the Learning and Skills Council to redevelop the current centre at the former de Brome school in Boundaries Road.
In October 2007 the council ruled out redeveloping de Brome and offered the High Street site as an alternative.
Deputy leader of the council, Conservative Cllr Mark Bowen said: “It's very much an issue of location, location, location and I think the current site at de Brome is an inappropriate location. Putting it in the High Street is the best place for it to be.
“I have never said it's the perfect site but, weighing everything up, it's the best site for raising the profile of skills training in Feltham.”