Help us survive - construction college

A renewed plea has been issued for cash aid to prevent a construction college from being forced to scale down its Norfolk operation and put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.

A renewed plea has been issued for cash aid to prevent a construction college from being forced to scale down its Norfolk operation and put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.

Andy Walder, the acting chief of the National Const-ruction College, said he was determined to explore every avenue to secure funding to modernise facilities at the 40-year-old campus at Bircham Newton, near Fakenham.

He admitted that failure to carry out the modernisation could result in the operation being scaled down and a potential loss of 200-plus jobs at the Norfolk site.

His plea for an estimated £15m to carry out the badly needed modernisation of the site, described as Europe's largest provider of specialist construction training, comes just a month before a crucial meeting on the college's future.

Mr Walder stressed last night that despite extensive contacts with a variety of potential new financial providers, no new money had been identified.

“I have to say that despite comments of support by agencies like King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Coun-cil, Norfolk County Council and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), no money is on the table,” he said. While I welcome these statements of concern and support, none of it has been turned into action and cash.”

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The critical situation has arisen following the rejection of the college's planning appeal to allow it to sell off part of its campus site for 250 new homes to pay for the modernisation of its outdated student accommodation and leisure facilities.

Mr Walder said one option would be to relocate part of construction training current-ly offered at Bircham Newton to a major construction site such as the new Olympic village to be built in East London.

However, Mr Walder said that he would not give up in his search for new funding. “I am not giving up until the final nail is in the coffin and there is nowhere else to go,” he said.