New talks will take place next month over the future of the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) headquarters in West Norfolk, it has been announced today.
CITB bosses announced their intention to leave their Bircham Newton base for a new home in the Peterborough area in November, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
But managers will now meet political and business leaders on February 9 to discuss the issue at a session hosted by West Norfolk Council.
The CITB says the meeting will look at how training can continue at the Bircham site and ensure that “as many jobs as possible” are retained.
And North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last month, has called the meeting an “important step forward.”
He said a short time ago: “We will be making the case that the CITB headquarters should stay at Bircham. I think the arguments are overwhelming. It will be the first time we’re going to be able collectively to make our point.”
The talks will include representatives of West Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as education and employment officials.
CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “The industry has been absolutely clear – CITB must reform – but we also care very much about the communities and individuals affected by our change programme.
“We are pleased to be working with key stakeholders to find the best possible future for our Bircham Newton site.
“When we consulted recently with colleagues at the borough council, I found it particularly heartening to be met with open, responsive and positive attitudes towards our suggestions.
“The site has huge potential and, working together, we stand the best chance of maximising its benefit for both West Norfolk and the construction industry.”
Borough council leader Brian Long said the authority had been working with the CITB to gain a “detailed understanding” of its plans.
He said: “We appreciate the reasoning behind CITB’s proposed move away from direct training, which is why we’re keen to maximise the potential opportunities for new partners at the site.
“We’re pleased to be hosting this session with the aim of creating a Vision 2020 Taskforce to ensure that all ideas and solutions are geared towards a positive outcome for the future of the site.”
New Anglia LEP chief executive Chris Starkie added: “CITB’s announcement will have come as a major blow to staff at Bircham Newton and businesses in the supply chain. But we understand the industry’s desire for change.
“The collaborative approach now being taken is a very good sign, and we look forward to working with all partners to provide a solution that best suits workers, the local economy and the construction industry.”