WITH the wonderful wisdom of hindsight, it’s easy to see that our University Technical College was destined to fail.

Which is terribly sad, because:

a) so many well-meaning people devoted their time and effort, not to mention our money, to trying to make a success of it, and because

b) it has let down young people who placed their faith in its promise to deliver technical education to a standard geared to the needs of business and the military/scientific community in south Wiltshire.

I’m not going to revive the ‘We need our police station back’ argument, because it’s pointless. Ain’t gonna happen.

Like 99.999% of the city’s population I fail to see that relying on custody facilities in Melksham is more sensible than having somewhere handy nearby to bang up miscreants until the courts can deal with them.

And I know from the responses to this column’s campaign when we lost our cells that serving officers agree with me.

But reoccupying premises which were admittedly larger than they needed in the first place, even in partnership with another public service organisation, won’t be a priority for our cash-strapped Wiltshire force.

And it would take more than a magic money tree to persuade our politicians to admit they were so wrong all along.

It is, however, perfectly reasonable for us to ask what went awry and why it wasn’t foreseen.

Almost £330million of taxpayers’ cash has been made available since 2011 to set up UTCS, according to the Education Policy Institute.

Yet they haven’t done very well, with £51million invested in ones that have already closed.

Who thought it was a good idea to graft onto a secondary system that mostly moves children at 11 and 16 an option to relocate a handful at 14?

It was bound to attract a fair few of the disaffected and the hard-to-teach. In Salisbury, there were certainly behaviour issues highlighted by Ofsted.

A study by the Institute says it would make more sense to take students at 16.

Making the local situation harder to manage, leadership and the quality of some teaching were slated as inadequate.

Osted’s inspectors didn’t blame the principal. They could see he’d taken over a deteriorating institution and was gradually improving things.

But senior members of his team were having to spend their time covering for demoralised, absent staff. They couldn’t attract enough specialists, for example in engineering. The governors were initially slow to intervene.

The trouble is that once a place gets a bad name, parents and potential employees understandably shy away. It’s been called “a spiral of despair”.

So what will happen to the building now?

A ‘cyber centre’ is one option being floated, to be run by Wiltshire College. Failing that, we could always turn it into old people’s flats.

What do you mean, Salisbury’s got enough of those already?

I don’t think Messrs McCarthy & Stone, Churchill, the Quantum Group and their ilk would agree. They keep on developing them, don’t they? It must be worth their while.