Taskforce established to consider future of CITB's headquarters

A taskforce has been set up to discuss the possibilities of ensuring the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) head office avoids relocation. 

It comes after concerns raised at the end of 2017 when the board outlined plans for a new “streamlined” service when it published its strategy for the forthcoming three years entitled ‘Vision 2020: The Future CITB‘. One of the suggestions within the forward planning was to relocate its headquarters in Bircham Newton, Norfolk, to Peterborough. At the time it was feared that the move could likely result in reductions to its staff.

Speaking at the time, Sarah Beale, chief executive of CITB, said the training body needed to “adapt and update its business model” and that “some really tough decisions” could have to be made. 

But a taskforce comprising of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Norfolk County Council, The College of West Anglia (CWA), Freebridge Community Housing, Conservative MP Henry Bellingham and the CITB has now been established to provide clarity over the future of the headquarters and training facilities.

Meeting last week, stakeholders agreed to consider delaying a final decision on retaining their Bircham Newton base for at least two years and discussed the possibility of continuing training at the site. 

The CITB restructuring plans were unveiled last November, following one of its largest ever industry consultation exercises with the training body saying the next few years would see it become more “agile and forward-thinking”. At the time, the union’s national officer for construction Jerry Swain slammed the plans as “a hammer blow for the construction industry and for the workers at the CITB”.

But Beale has now said the board remain “committed to securing the future of training and the retention of jobs in Norfolk. 

She added: “I’m delighted that together we established the new taskforce. There were lots of issues on the table and 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 each and every key local stakeholder, throughout the reform process.”

The meeting was chaired by West Norfolk Council and its leader Brian Long, described the talks as “positive and extremely constructive". “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,” he added. “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.”

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