Taskforce set up to consider future of CITB’s West Norfolk home

GV CITB Bircham Norflk.
GV CITB Bircham Norflk.
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A new taskforce is being set up to consider the future use of the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) headquarters in West Norfolk.

The move follows a summit meeting on Friday, where bosses agreed to consider delaying a final decision on retaining their Bircham Newton base for at least two years.

Political, business and education leaders took part in the talks, which were chaired by West Norfolk Council.

Its leader, Brian Long, described them as “positive and extremely constructive.”

He said: “What was clear was the desire for all parties present to work together to achieve the best outcome for those working at the CITB, and for the people of West Norfolk.

“There was a strong commitment from all around the table to take advantage of the positive opportunities that will present themselves during this challenging process.

“There was also a clear commitment to work with others, including Job Centre Plus, to support staff who may be at risk of redundancy.”

The future of the Bircham site was plunged into doubt in November when the CITB announced plans to move its headquarters to the Peterborough area, potentially putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

But CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “We are committed to working together with taskforce partners to achieve effective solutions for West Norfolk and the people who live and work there.

“Not only is CITB absolutely committed to securing the future of training and the retention of jobs in Norfolk – we can now rely on the expert advice and input of every key local stakeholder, throughout the reform process.

“It is only by working together that we will find the best possible outcome for the future of the Bircham site.”

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who proposed a delay to the final decision on the site’s future, said he expected it to be looked at by the CITB’s board within the next couple of weeks.

He said: “The board are in listening mode. I take that as quite positive.”

He said there was also a “very strong chance” the CITB’s card checking operation would be kept in West Norfolk, potentially saving more than 100 jobs.

Sir Henry will be part of the taskforce alongside representatives of the CITB, the borough council, Norfolk County Council, the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, Freebridge Community Housing and the College of West Anglia.

A science park and a manufacturing centre of excellence are among the ideas put forward so far.

New Anglia LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said: “This was a valuable meeting and a really positive discussion between partners all keen to see the best possible outcome.

“Our discussions around setting up a taskforce for the Bircham Newton site and on retaining the card checking business in its current location were particularly useful.”

College of West Anglia principal David Pomfret added: “The taskforce will create opportunities to develop an effective partnership between CWA and a new training provider to enhance local construction training opportunities.”