Possible £11.5m boost for college

THIS week saw another major step towards improvements to the College of West Anglia’s Isle Campus in Wisbech.

Cambridgeshire County Council agreed the first steps in an £11.5million package of funding for improvements at college in Ramnoth Road, on Tuesday.

The package would hopefully see major benefits for the community and improved job prospects.

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

The announcement follows a £1.5 million investment from Fenland District Council in the project.

Already the College of West Anglia is the main 16 to 19 education provider for an area that includes Fenland, King’s Lynn, West Norfolk and Breckland. An economic impact study carried out in 2008 identified that the College contributes £228 million to the regional economy and annually £30 million of central Government funding for training.

The College was due to move to March but Learning and Skills Council funding was withdrawn which left the College looking at how to cope with their old existing buildings. 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 have looked at several options to build the new office facilities and recommended at the 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.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Jill Tuck, who 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. “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.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Alan Melton, Leader of Fenland District Council, 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.”

College of West Anglia 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.”