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Politics row as West Norfolk Council rejects union education fund plea

West Norfolk Council’s leadership has been accused of putting politics ahead of people’s aspirations by refusing to lobby for the retention of an education support fund.

A motion calling for the authority to urge the borough’s MPs to lobby the Department of Education to reverse the scrapping of the Union Learning Fund was defeated during a special meeting on Thursday.

The council’s leader said ministers were introducing alternative provisions.

King's Court, Borough Council of West Norfolk.. (43755272)
King's Court, Borough Council of West Norfolk.. (43755272)

But Independent councillor Jo Rust, who proposed the motion, urged the Conservative administration to “put aside politics” and support it.

She said: “This is about people we represent and will provide a diversity of training opportunities for our residents.”

The meeting was told the fund generated £1.4 billion of economic benefits for an annual investment of only £12 million.

Tom Ryves described it as a “remarkably efficient” means of generating economic growth.

And Labour group leader Charles Joyce urged the Tory group: “Do not demean yourself, do not allow yourself to be vilified because you do not want to allow the people in this borough and this country to have a better education.

“That is one way to bring this country out of this awful pandemic.”

But council leader Brian Long said the new apprenticeship levy imposed on businesses was raising more and the authority was being asked to intervene on something it has no control of.

He added: “Whenever our government is proposing to do anything there is always someone who will do whatever they can to oppose it.

“It’s for the individual to make that representation to their local MP.

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