What have the Conservatives done for Shropshire? Not much, I would have said, but at least they brought a university to our county. Now even that is not true. The University of Chester is leaving its base at the Guildhall in Shrewsbury Frankwell at the end of term. The University is looking for a new home in Shropshire but it doesn’t sound committed to remaining.

The Conservatives are talking about moving the council into the Guildhall so that it can flog off the Shirehall site for housing and use the money to pay for its pet projects around Shrewsbury town centre and the North West Relief Road.

Here is a shocker. The decision to give the University of Chester it marching orders was not made by Shropshire councillors or by the council leadership. It was made by council officers and the leader of council, Lezley Picton, did not know about it until the university informed students, staff and governors.

The Guildhall

Officers have been running Shropshire Council for years and the Conservative leaders have been scrambling to catch up. Now it seems the leadership has lost all control.

The issue is over payment of rent. Chester University had been given sweetener of no rent for the Guildhall for five years. That was extended for two years because of the pandemic. Then the university said it could not afford to pay so officers served notice to quit without telling the council leadership. Council leader Lezley Picton only learnt of the decision when she read it in the email to stakeholders.

Chester University letter

The university should pay rent but the notice to quit is a decision that should have been made by councillors, or at least by the council leadership, not unelected officers.

Loss of the university shows that the Conservatives have lost faith in the county they represent and the people who live in it. They seem content with young people leaving our county for higher education, maybe never to return, or at least not until they retire. They seem content with letting the county’s population get older.

It is difficult to look at our neighbour Telford & Wrekin without envy. Not only does it have the world class Harper Adams University, which will shortly open a campus in Telford’s Station Quarter, it has a University of Wolverhampton campus.

From the coming September, Shropshire will have nothing.

7 thought on “Council Cuts: Chester University to leave Shropshire after councils officers tell it to leave Guildhall”
  1. I make no comment on whether Chester University should or should not have a base in Shrewsbury. But I think to call Harper Adams University “world class” is hyperbolic (see below). 369th in Europe….

    From topuniversities.com

    Rankings & ratings
    Harper Adams University is one of the top public universities in Newport, United Kingdom. It is ranked #1001-1200 in QS World University Rankings 2024.

    QS World University Rankings
    QS WUR Ranking By Subject
    Europe University Rankings – Northern Europe
    Europe University Ranking

    1. I stand by my statement. There are around 25,000 unversities in the world. The rankings are only for the top flight of top universities on the world stage. I also know the reputation of Harper Adams after decades in the academic world. It doesn’t get to the top of the rankings because it doesn’t do liberal arts and is focused on agriculture. But I have heard it highly spoken of in universities from Japan to the USA.

      It does well and we should celebrate that.

  2. The loss of Chester university is terrible news for the young of Shropshire and the surrounding area. Even as a rent free tenant they were making more use of it than the council will, by investing in the next generation. It should be a commitment from the council that Shropshire will have a university and one good site would be the old power station at Ironbridge, there are still industrial buildings there and the current proposal for house is on land adjacent to the site not the site itself. The setting would lend itself to a much needed engineering faculty as well as countryside management and tourism qualifications. Another good site would have been the old council buildings at Bridgnorth but they have been vandalised by official parties. Hopefully May will see a clean sweep of councillors who look back rather than forward. Many have good intentions but too many have diehard old Tory mentality and do not serve all the voters. This university must not disappear killed off by supposed cuts. I can’t imagine the council would get good value for money for the current council office site, its just not how they work

  3. Would you want to invest in a housing development with 3m flood barriers around it? These would be required to get insurance….

  4. Is there any chance of enquiring in the US 4 one of theirs to have an extention re selling Shropshire as a prime sight for expansion?

  5. If they can’t pay their rent, should they continue as tennants? Hard times for us as rate payers. I’m sure they will find a replacement tennant, hopefully someone who will not fob us rate payers off. Perhaps someone who benefits Shropshire rather than Cheshire. My biggest problem with this issue is why enter into the fiasco at the start? Think I know the answer.

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