Like many, this week I was deeply saddened by the deaths of the boys who were pulled from a freezing lake in Solihull. Just last Saturday I had noticed at Pittville Parkrun that the lake had iced over, and I thought for a moment how dangerous as well as beautiful it looked. I realise now that this tragedy could have happened in Cheltenham. I’m sure many local parents will, like me, have reminded children of the hazards of thin ice.
On a happier note, I am delighted that the Government has awarded nearly £6m to the University of Gloucestershire, to expand its successful computing, engineering and digital facilities.
It takes the total sum invested so far by Government into our town’s tech future to over £32m. It’s a massive vote of confidence in Cheltenham.
This latest cash will be used to build a specialist three-storey facility at the Cheltenham Park Campus. It will extend the existing accommodation for the School of Computing and Engineering, and provide a space for students in Cyber and Technical Computing. Facilities for Advanced Emerging Technologies, Game Technologies, and Engineering Technologies will be enhanced too.
It’s so encouraging to see the Government getting behind the Cheltenham cyber and digital vision which I first set out in 2014. I believe passionately that growing this sector is one of the best ways to address the deprivation which exists in our town. It’s how we create opportunities for youngsters who may not have had the easiest start in life.
With £3m already invested by the Government in GlosCol’s Advanced Digital Academy, and £24m to open up the future Cyber Park, this cash sends a powerful signal to young people that Cheltenham is the best place to study and develop cyber skills. Well paid jobs are also just around the corner, literally and metaphorically.
To fund the schools and hospitals of tomorrow, a strong economy is essential. This latest investment helps deliver exactly that.
[Column first printed in the Glos Echo]