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Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith has welcomed the decision to move forward on Blenheim’s co-located colleges but says that documents released to him show a significant amount of time and money has been wasted by the Minister’s decision to stall the project unnecessarily.

“I’m very pleased that, after months of waiting for Education Minister Chris Hipkins to make a decision, we finally have some progress on this important project for our region. However, we’ve now lost 12 months during which we could have moved forward a great deal towards the original completion date of 2021.

“Documents released under the Official Information Act show that since February, Mr Hipkins had the opportunity to proceed with the co-location but instead he turned it down in order to begin an entirely new business case process.

“Mr Hipkins’ review means the community will now have to wait even longer for the new co-located schools that it voted for back in 2013 during the first consultation process. This also means the project will now be more expensive than the original $63 million set aside by the previous National Government.

“Before the Minister halted the project, plans for the colleges, including extensive community consultation, had been proceeding well as the work did not hinge on a site being identified.

“Instead of continuing with the plan, Mr Hipkins chose to take the entire project back to square one for reasons that are still not entirely clear.

“As the local MP I have fought for this project to ensure that students get access to top facilities and schooling provision. Now a site is secure I will continue to ask questions about the delivery to ensure that the project is delivered as soon as possible.

“National initiated this project because we know that if it is delivered well it can help change the lives of many young people in my region.”

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