A WAR of words has erupted between East Devon's MP and the leader of the county council - with each accusing the other of playing 'politics' with Rolle College's future.
Last week, the Lib Dem-run county council agreed to stump up potentially millions of pounds to buy the college from Plymouth University.
Conservative MP Hugo Swire, who has backed plans to acquire the former teacher training college and transform it into a post-16 educational facility, then accused them of 'playing games': ""I simply cannot understand the games that (county council leader) Brian Greenslade and Devon County Council are now playing.
""I have been led to believe the whole way through by Councillor Greenslade that the county council is prepared to put up funds to secure the campus for post-16 education in Exmouth.
""In his announcement, Councillor Greenslade is now talking about securing the site 'as an important asset in sustaining Exmouth's local economy', and not specifically for post-16 education in Exmouth.""
He said this was at odds with county council pre-election leaflets, released by Liberal Democrat County Councillors Brenda Taylor and Eileen Wragg:
""(They have claimed)...to my surprise, to have played a large part in negotiations and which state unequivocally 'with the aim of acquiring the Rolle College Campus site as a facility for educating post-16-year-old students'.""
He said Councillor Greenslade was still trying to score 'party political' points by seeking contributions from East Devon District Council - despite the district council saying they will forego any planning gains as their contribution.
He added: ""It is up to Devon County Council, as the authority responsible for local education, and not the district council to provide the funding for this purchase.
""Everyone is now thoroughly fed up with the Liberal Democrats politicising this issue and Councillor Greenslade must now state categorically, and once and for all, his intentions towards acquiring the site for post-16 education in the town...""
A bemused Cllr Brian Greenslade, said: ""The MP is playing party politics with the future of Exmouth.
""Unlike Conservative-run East Devon District Council, the county council is willing to dig deep into its pocket to help Exmouth both in educational and economic terms