College slate cleaned

11th August 2006 at 01:00
West Lothian College is likely within weeks to be put out of its financial misery caused by a botched private finance initiative to build a new campus in Livingston. Ministers are expected to approve a pound;24.6 million buy-out.

The saga of the multimillion pound funding gap caused by the terms of the PFI is coming closer to a resolution after several years of campaigning by the college. An investigation by the Scottish Executive's lifelong learning department is ready to support the view of the Scottish Funding Council that a bail-out is the only option.

The Scottish Parliament's audit committee was assured last year that the council would end the long-term funding crisis, while the Auditor General for Scotland warned about the consequences if ministers failed to act.

Nicol Stephen, Lifelong Learning Minister, faces two options when he returns from holiday. He will either sanction the funding council to buy out the PFI contract for around pound;24.6 million or allow the council to increase its payments to the college to meet the PFI terms.

It is understood the former is the favoured option as best value for the public purse.

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