Search for successors after TEC closure

21st November 1997 at 00:00
Local businesses and colleges in the West Midlands are to have a say in the carve-up of a training and enterprise council which has been at the centre of a Pounds 1 million fraud investigation.

As The TES went to press, a consultant was due to be appointed to organise an inquiry into how Central England TEC could be divided among its neighbours. The Government announced that it was to be wound up earlier this week.

It is the second large TEC to fold as a result of funding difficulties. Two years ago, the South London TEC was closed amid allegations of mismanagement.

Kim Howells, minister for lifelong learning, said this week that CENTEC would be replaced at the end of the financial year. He was unconvinced by a rescue plan the TEC had put forward.

Dr Howells intervened after the allegations of a Pounds 1m fraud by a training company working for CENTEC. The firm was alleged to have filled courses for the long-term unemployed with people who already had jobs.

Concerns had also been raised that CENTEC represented an area that lacked a clear identity.

Birmingham Training and Enterprise Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce would both be well placed to expand into Solihull which lies between them.

Birmingham or Hereford and Worcestershire Chamber could both potentially cover the Redditch and Kidderminster area in northern Worcestershire.

The government office for the West Midlands is supervising the inquiry and a final decision on the future of the area is due to be taken by Dr Howells in mid-December.

Support is said to be increasing for Solihull to join Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber.

David Richie, regional director of the government office, said: "It is possible to see a range of options."

He said the inquiry is due to consult businesses, colleges, training companies, careers services, local councils and a range of other interested parties.

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