2nd December 2011 at 00:00

All fired up over Mr Pickles' 'curry college'

News that local government secretary Eric Pickles wants to set up a "curry college" to train Brits in the ways of foreign food has travelled all around the world, with the Indian press taking an amused interest.

A former Conservative shadow communities minister, Paul Goodman, told the Guardian that the plan was "very Eric Pickles". He said: "He has a dream: namely to set up a curry college. It combines border control with foreign cooking. It would both help satisfy the apparently inexhaustible appetite for onion bhajis and prawn biryanis while also providing justification for the squeeze on visas."

Two questions remain: whose "inexhaustible appetite" are we talking about, exactly? The secretary of state is himself notoriously big and even named himself after his favourite poppadom condiments. And the second question: is this whole proposal as confected as FErret's claim about his surname?

Mr Goodman also said it was a reminder of Mr Pickles' "long engagement" with Asian communities as Bradford council's leader. Well, if he's still engaged with them, or possesses an internet connection, Mr Pickles will probably know Bradford College has already set up a training centre to bridge the skills gap for curry chefs without immigration. So what are the chances that this future curry college turns out to be the old one, reheated?

SFA's spending denials seem a bit rich

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has been taking a dim view of people criticising it for funding 12-week apprenticeships or letting training company directors walk off with millions, and would like everyone to know it is the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) that is responsible.

It would like people to know that, but it's not necessarily the case. The NAS took over formal responsibility for 201112 funding, but what about 2010, when Elmfield Training made so much money it could afford to take out mortgages on four luxury homes? Yep, the SFA was in charge.

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