Sunday, December 19, 2010

Questions raised in parliament over the future of Ushaw College

The Northern Echo reported on Friday that Pat Glass, MP for northwest Durham, `tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons, expressing fears about the uncertain future of Ushaw College, near Durham`.

The article continues:
Mrs Glass, who lives in Lanchester, said: “Ushaw College is a Roman Catholic college, home to St Cuthbert’s Seminary, which has been forming young men for the priesthood since its foundation and which holds a library that is priceless to the heritage of Catholicism in England and the North-East and consists of grade I and grade II-listed buildings.

“At a time when the Coalition Government’s cuts to the arts are hitting the North-East disproportionately, it is my opinion that we have a duty to protect our historic buildings and heritage here in the region.

“Ushaw College is greatly important to my constituents and the local community.”

Mrs Glass urged colleagues to note the importance of Ushaw College in the area, the concerns that local people have at the closure announcement and to support calls for the decision to be reconsidered.

The motion regarding Ushaw College has been supported by eight other MPs, including fellow regional representatives, Roberta Blackman Woods, Kevan Jones, Mary Glindon and Ian Mearns.

I`m glad to see Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside, our local MP, in this list. In fact the parliamentary website linked to above lists thirteen MPs behind this motion, twelve from Labour and one Conservative.


Leo Darroch said...

This intervention by our local MPs is encouraging and welcome if it can persuade the trustees to think again and discuss the problem in a more open manner. If there are funds and grants available from government sources that can help Ushaw then it is to be hoped that the MPs might ask their assistants and researchers to find out about these.
Now that our local MPs have thrown their hats into the ring may I suggest that there may be another source of funding - namely the EU. This would be something for our local MEPs to research. I have been given these two links that could be worth exploring: &

More relevant still is the following:

EU funding has been provided in Malta, including the restoration of two church parvis of a medieval village (Ħal Millieri) and another one in Gozo (Basilica of St. George Museum in Victoria). In the latter case, the amount by the EU amounts to no less than 85% (EUR 1.2 million), the reason being that the fund is the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

From their silence we have no idea which avenues, if any, the trustees have explored. It is about time there was a public statement, or a press conference, to give full details of this proposed closure. Many sound ideas have been put forward but they seem to be falling on deaf or closed ears. How different to the USA where the bishops' meetings are televised and voting is public.

Et Expecto said...

The distressing aspect of this business is the extreme secrecy being adopted by the trustees, who are the bishops of the northern dioceses under the chairmanship of Archbishop Drainey.

It does seem that the plan has been to close it before there is time for anyone to object. All very reminiscent of the old Middlesbrough cathedral.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Et Expecto, I think you mean archbishop Kelly unless you know something no-one else does!

Are there no legal obligations to consult when you are closing a Grade 1 listed building? Is it worth finding out what the MPs can do?

1569 Rising said...

Early Day Motions are as common as sand in the desert, or penguins in South Georgia, and as effective. On the day (Thursday 16 December) when Pat Glass tabled her motion, another 68 EDM's were placed on the Order Paper, making a total of 1,126 since October. EDM's are a device which MP's use to get a mention in their local papers, they are never debated on the floor of the House nor in Committee. It is interesting to see that the world-renowned Tribune of the People Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) signed it, but there again, he signed about 15 on the same day.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but I do not place too much store by this development.

Anyway, I don't accept the allegation that cuts in funding for the arts has been disproportianately brutal to the North East. It is just not true.

Let's face it, the Trustees are doing all they can to close Ushaw, and if St Peter himself came down to earth and pleaded for a stay of execution, he would be politely told to mind his own business.

Pleasae feel free to call me a miserable old beggar.

Richard S Rainbow said...

Obviously I have to say it: 1569 is a miserable old begger (have I spelt that correctly?) but he is also correct about EDMs and Ronnie Campbell and maybe even correct about the bishops determination to close Ushaw - but St Peter would be able to overrule them.

Fr Michael Brown said...

1569 do I detect a slight on penguins in your comment?

K.E. said...

I would also like to join the queue in confirming that 1569 is a miserable old beggar, but I cannot decide which of these virtues is most prominent. As he is an expert on the penguins of South Georgia he will know that there are three main types - King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua), and
the Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica). Does he have a particular breed in mind?

On a more mundane matter he states that he would hate to be a wet blanket but then adopts a negative stance. He must remind himself of the theological virtues of faith, HOPE, and charity. There are quite a few moves now happening behind the scenes so we shall not say the goose is cooked until it comes out of the oven.

1569 Rising said...

To be attacked on three fronts on the same day proves that I obviously struck a nerve with the bird fanciers who inhabit this rather strange Forest.

Yet all three, Fr Brown, Richard Rainbow and K.E. (who he?), have missed the point. I was, of course, referring to the large stock of chocolate covered, caramel centred biscuits left behind by the invading Argies in 1982. The biscuits are now, of course past their sell-by date, so are ineffective in allaying the pangs of hunger of any intrepid traveller who happens upon that benighted part of the South Atlantic.

I am intrigued that K.E., who is obviously a knowledgeable penguin fancier, seems to have no such regard for other winged and feathered wildlife, since he ends his remarks by singing the praises of roasted goose.

Finally, I will confirm that "beggar" was not a typo.

Richard S Rainbow said...

I assure 1569 that I am not a bird fancier (or 'Birder') but simply couldn't resist the opportunity to call 1569 a 'miserable old begger' (are you quite sure its not a typo error?)with his consent.
In the Antartic region biscuits of the quality of Penquins remain edible, eatable and tasty even after 30 years.
The arguments for and against the saving or closure of Ushaw are unlikely to be of as much attraction in 30 years time - although the new golf course on those green pastures will be the place where many business deals will be struck. The kind of deals which might have been struck by the bishops (or have already been struck?).