‘Our priority is to retain these jobs’ – West Norfolk Council says of CITB
Officials are calling for jobs to be kept in the borough after proposals to move the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) headquarters were announced last week.
Hundreds of jobs could be at risk after CITB revealed plans to move from its current site at Bircham Newton to Peterborough over the next three years.
West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said they are discussing the matter with CITB to try to retain the jobs.
Mr Long said: “CITB is a major employer in the area and their recent announcement is a devastating blow for the local job market.”
He said the council has met with key agencies as a matter of urgency to establish the main issues to discuss with CITB in more detail.
“We understand the need for them to focus on core business and to cut their costs, but clearly our overriding priority is to find a way to retain these jobs in West Norfolk,” Mr Long added.
“We know this is a tall order. The CITB strategy breaks into several strands and by looking at each strand independently and working with the CITB we hope we can develop a plan that will enable as many of these jobs as possible to be retained in the area.”
Mr Long said it is hoped another meeting can be arranged with CITB management as soon as possible to discuss the issues further.
On Friday North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said he had spoken of his concerns regarding the proposals with relevant ministers.
“I understand why they have to off-load the non-core functions, most people understand that,” Sir Henry said.
“But it is important that the headquarters are at Bircham Newton. It’s a 450-acre site and incredibly valuable, but there must be a master plan for it. If not, it could easily go downhill very quickly.
“There have been 53 years of excellent relationship between the community and the CITB, but just because they have to change doesn’t mean they have to move it away.
“The staff at CITB are excellent but the leadership is weak at the moment. People don’t have confidence in the senior leadership.
“The only way to rebuild this trust is to announce they are going to reverse it and take firm commitment.
“If it doesn’t change, I’m going to be calling for wholescale resignations.
“This is a time when the construction industry needs more skills, and I think that what we need straightaway is a commitment to stay in Bircham.”