Cambs County Council agrees first steps in �11.5m College of West Anglia funding package

CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council has today agreed the first steps in an �11.5million package of funding for improvements at the College of West Anglia in Wisbech.

The project will see a new �6.5million investment on the Wisbech site to create a jointly shared council building for frontline and backroom services, as well as a �5million grant to help build a new engineering block for the College.

Today’s announcement follows a �1.5million investment from Fenland District Council in the project.

Major benefits for the future generations of Fenlanders, improved job prospects and more efficient joined up services are in the pipeline under the improvements.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Jill Tuck, who is also a Fenland councillor and has been backing the project, said: “This is the first phase in an exciting project to provide modern and high quality facilities for the communities of Fenland while supporting the excellent work carried out by the College of West Anglia.

“Both I and the leader of Fenland District Council, Alan Melton, have been heavily involved in this project. This will help bring jobs and skills as well as closer working between councils and our partners, but ultimately, will benefit the people of Fenland and particularly Wisbech.”

Cllr Melton said: “This is great news for Fenland and represents a major investment in improving the way people could access services and protecting the future of the college.

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“By investing in our youngsters we are making a greater investment in the future of Fenland and reducing the deprivation in the area. By working together councils are listening to what communities want and delivering it.”

An economic impact study carried out in 2008 identified that the College contributes �228million to the regional economy and annually �30million of central Government funding for training.

The College was due to move from Wisbech to March but Learning and Skills Council funding was withdrawn which left the College looking at how to cope with their old existing buildings.

A county council spokesman said tonight: “The County Council investment in the new engineering block recognises the importance, even in these difficult financial times, of investing in engineering skills and training which is so important to the Fenland economy.”

Councillors looked at several options to build the new office facilities and recommended at today’s Cabinet meeting that the College site goes forward as the preferred option.

The scheme will bring together county council and partner services that are currently dispersed across a number of buildings in Wisbech, providing for more efficient service delivery and reducing spend on operating and maintaining buildings.

College principal David Pomfret said: “I am extremely grateful to both Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council for recognising the valuable role of the College in supporting education and skills development in the area.

“This much needed investment and strong partnership working will be of massive benefit to the College and local community.”

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