A builder who lost more than £30,000 when his Worksop training academy flopped has spoken out about the lack of support and interest in his project.
Martin Introna set up Midland Construction Training Ltd in 2011, turning an industrial unit on Vulcan Place into a fully accredited training facility.
With teaching experience under his belt his ambition was to get more Worksop people working by passing on the skills he had learned through 20 years in the trade.
“We’ve thousands of people unemployed in Bassetlaw with no way of getting a trade. Colleges want academic qualifications to enrol in construction trades,” said Mr Introna, 57.
“People sign on each week for doing nothing but job search - I could offer them a real start.”
“I spent thousands of pounds of my own money getting the unit ready inside, building plastering bays, buying tools and materials.”
“But no-one seemed interested. The only people I had through the door were a handful of ex-offenders who the probation service sent my way.”
Mr Introna said he was told by a business adviser he would be able to access funding, but would need to get the facility up and running first.
He said: “Then as soon as the new Government came in the funding was axed.”
“We were the only private training facility in the whole of Bassetlaw but people can’t train if they haven’t got the funding.”
He has since tried to access different pots of funding and partner up with various colleges and agencies, but with no success.
“I have been begging for help - I went to Business Link but it was like talking to a brick wall. The Coal Regeneration Trust couldn’t help, councillors tried putting me in touch with people and I asked John Mann for help but nothing has come off.”
“There are blokes around here who worked down the mines who are now working in a factory making sandwiches.”
“People are having to do anything they can to make ends meet but they can’t go on courses because they cost an arm and a leg.”
“I wanted to teach people proper skills. I wasn’t asking to be rich, I just wanted to make a living doing something I love.”
Mr Introna said he feels his is just another company which has received no help.
“About a year ago I decided it wasn’t worth carrying on. I was losing too much money,” he said.
“The facility and all the equipment is just sitting there waiting to be used.”
“I have lived in Worksop all my life. I just wanted to show people they could achieve something. Now I’m back on the tools myself, working contracts to make ends meet.”
Bassetlaw MP John Mann opened Mr Introna’s unit in February 2011. He said: “I was impressed by the set-up he had.”
“But the problem is he has set up at a time when there is a huge downturn in the construction industry.”
“Businesses that are solely reliant on government contracts are always risky.”
“My advice is always to not just go for government contracts but to build private clients as well.”
“But while I give advice to businesses on a regular basis it is not my role ever, and neither is it the role of local councillors, to be intervening in government contracts.”
Bassetlaw Council said Business Link would have advised Mr Introna on his plan in 2010.
But a spokesman added: “The individual should know his or her business - it is not an advisor’s role to develop a business plan, do market research or apply for funding.”
“Bassetlaw Council offers the services of a qualified advisor, a small grant scheme, a mentoring scheme as well as promoting business networks and themed workshops and seminars.”