Education Minister Chris Hipkins has taken the Marlborough Colleges co-location project back to square one and is now stalling on progress, Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith says.

“Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) show that since February, Mr Hipkins has had the opportunity to proceed with the co-location but instead has turned it down in order to begin an entirely new business case process, for which we have not been given a timeframe.”

The documents include a report prepared by the Ministry of Education for Mr Hipkins dated 20 February 2018, recommended two actions: to seek Cabinet approval for additional spending to continue the co-location; or to update the business case options, including any other feasible options and confirm whether co-location is still the preferred option.

“The Marlborough community already voted for its preferred option – co-location - back in 2013. Mr Hipkins’ decision is a significant backwards step and one that is hugely disappointing for Marlborough, particularly as the original $63 million budget to build our colleges, with a completion date of 2021, had already been agreed on by Cabinet.”

Mr Smith says the report states additional funding would have come from existing ministry baseline funding, with financial approval incorporated in Budget 2018.

“Given the Budget was announced last week, Mr Hipkins has now foregone this opportunity and it is unlikely he will seek further funding approval from Cabinet for our colleges any time soon.

“This is little more than a stalling tactic on a very important project for our region. I will continue to put a great deal of pressure behind this issue.”

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