I was delighted to welcome Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove to Keighley and Ilkley yesterday. He joined us for a tour around the hugely impressive Keighley Campus of Leeds City College, due to open in September.
We preceded the visit with a short walkabout in Keighley town centre and, with 20 members of my campaign team joining us, it wasn’t difficult to get noticed. More importantly, the response of local residents was warm – as it has been throughout the three and a half years since I became the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate here.
Then it was on to the main event at the new £35m campus where, as Leader of Bradford Council in 2008, I joined the principal in formally launching the construction phase.
It is a project very close to my heart. Not only because I am a former student of what used to be Keighley College. But also because without the joint efforts of the Conservative-led authority and the College to work together to locate, assemble and prepare the new 3.5 acre site adjacent to the town’s railway station, the dream could never have become reality. The result is a modern, state of the art facility incorporating specialist vocational and general accommodation.
Despite the well-documented difficulties with air travel at the present time, we were able to buck the trend by boarding a plane – a Keighley Airways plane. OK so, in truth, it was just a mock-up, yet a very impressive mock-up which will double up as a top-notch training facility for in-flight catering and attendance training.
As well as witnessing a remote-controlled robot do its stuff in what will be the hi-tech STAR Centre designed to encourage and stimulate interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), Michael welcomed the opportunity to meet and chat with members of staff and students.
Before leaving, Michael expressed a willingness to return to the campus in September when it is fully operational. By then, I hope he will be playing a key role in a new Conservative Government.