Wisbech re-affirms itself as Capital of the Fens with massive �11.5million boost

WISBECH re-established itself last night as the undisputed Capital of the Fens following the pledge of �11.5million to boost education and to create a local headquarters for the county council.

The cash will mean the College of West Anglia can demolish the current H block next to the car park on its Wisbech site which the county council described as “essentially obsolete and unsuited for modern teaching and learning”.

In its place will be a 2,700 square metre engineering block and a new Fenland HQ for the county council to deliver services described as “vital in addressing deprivation” in the Fens. One early beneficiary will be improved delivery of children’s services into Wisbech.

County council leader Jill Tuck said the initiative would help “bring jobs and skills as well as closer working between councils and partners but ultimately will benefit the people of Fenland and particularly Wisbech”. Job Centre Plus may even have an office within the new building “to link education to job opportunities and employment”.

Fenland District Council is also involved having previously pledged �1.5 million towards the education centre which will provide training in engineering, motor vehicles, motor sport, computer aided design, ICT provision and computer numerical control.

The county council is putting up �6.5million to build its new Wisbech headquarters and will offer a �5million grant to help pay for the engineering block.

Council directors Nick Dawe and Adrian Loades said in a joint report approved by the county council Cabinet that the new offices would be built with “flexibility of use as a key feature…..to future-proof its ongoing value to the community”.

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They said that the decision by the Learning and Skills Council to pull the plug on a new campus originally planned for March left Wisbech with buildings in a poor condition and increasingly costly to maintain.

“This is not sustainable,” said their report. “Without improvement the college would have to consider the rationalisation of its estate”. By bringing forward this investment it would alleviate some of the pressures facing the college “and make a powerful statement as to the long term investment in Wisbech”.

The decision ends months of speculation over where the council would build its new Wisbech headquarters with up to 10 sites at one time under consideration.

The county council says it looked at land in Somers Road and on the A47 near Cromwell Road, considered buying the Phoenix Hotel site, looked at the Corn Exchange and Queen Mary Centre, and even at one point considered land at the North Cambs Hospital.

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