27th July 2018
On Friday 20th July Henry attended the recent CITB roundtable meeting in King’s Lynn, alongside the Chief Executive of the CITB, Sarah Beale, and for the first the new Chairman Peter Lauener, in addition to this Ray Harding, Chief Executive of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council was in attendance alongside a number of individuals from the CITB and a team from the Borough Council.
Commenting on the matter Henry said: “I am grateful to the new Chairman and the Chief Executive for listening to what I had to say at last Friday’s roundtable. I certainly reiterated the point that it would be disastrous if the headquarters was moved from Bircham, not just because the CITB need to keep senior management at Bircham but to oversee the Master Plan for that part of the site that will no longer be needed for training purposes where there is massive potential for future job creation."
Henry went on to say: “Whilst I felt the Roundtable meeting was positive I would very much like to stress to the CITB that I believe they should abandon the idea of moving to Peterborough as their only specific alternative, as it would make a great deal of sense if Bircham could remain as the headquarters of the CITB, and to go on genuinely consulting on staying at Bircham in line with what we were originally promised.”
19th July 2018
On Tuesday 17th Sir Henry secured an Adjournment Debate in Westminster Hall on the CITB’s proposed relocation, where Henry left the Minister responding and his officials in doubt about the local strength of feeling on this matter.
Henry said: “I certainly reinforced the point that the CITB must rethink their completely illogical move to Peterborough as they need to conduct a proper consultation on staying at Bircham. Given there is a really important link between the community of West Norfolk, my constituency and the CITB I believe they should abandon the idea of moving to Peterborough as their only specific alternative, and to go on genuinely consulting on staying at Bircham in line with what we were originally promised."
Henry went on to say that: “The whole consultation has been extremely badly handled and the staff have been let down in many ways. What I find particularly depressing is that the state of mind of the CITB senior management seems to be such that it has made a decision and is determined to go forward, even though it says in its letters that there is an ongoing consultation on Peterborough and the preferred location for the joint headquarters. It has always been a very happy atmosphere to work in, however it has been completely poisoned by the CITB’s suggestions.”
“As I see it the CITB now has two choices. First of all, they can either go ahead with this ill-thought-out, illogical move now, or put things on hold and we can all see what the position looks like in three years’ time. This would enable us to see how the training partnership and the masterplan develop.”
Unfortunately the Minister responsibly, Anne Milton MP, was engaged elsewhere at a Select Committee, as such Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools responded on the Government’s behalf. Commenting on the Minister’s response Henry said: “I very much welcomed the Minister recognising the compelling case I put forward and his confirmation the Government does not have a preference for where the CITB headquarters should be located.”
16th July 2018
Sir Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk has secured a short Adjournment Debate on the future of the CITB on Tuesday 17th July at 11:00am. The debate itself will take place in Westminster Hall and will be answered by the Minister responsible. Adjournment Debates give the opportunity for an individual backbench Member of Parliament to raise an issue of either local or national importance and receive a response from the relevant Minister.
Commenting on the matter Henry said: “I am delighted the Speaker has given me the opportunity to raise this most important issue. I will certainly reinforce the point that the CITB must rethink their completely illogical move to Peterborough as they need to conduct a proper consultation on staying at Bircham.”
Henry went on to say: “The CITB have been at Bircham Newton since 1964, and whilst I understand the need for reform, they need to be on hand at Bircham to oversee the relationship with the new training provider; and drive forward the master plan for this site. Given the CITB own the buildings at Bircham moving away at this stage will be extremely costly and is an utterly ridiculous decision. Indeed the CITB need to stay at Bircham for at least another three years until we know exactly where this is going to end up.”
“I would like to reiterate to the CITB that I believe they should abandon the idea of moving to Peterborough as their only specific alternative, and to go on genuinely consulting on staying at Bircham in line with what we were originally promised.”
5th July 2018
Sir Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk said: “I was quite appalled to hear the news today that the CITB totally contrary to what they have been promising people, will now begin to engage with agencies in Peterborough to find a new headquarters.”
“I was recently assured by the Chairman Peter Lauener that the consultation on the headquarters would continue until the autumn, and that during this period the CITB would continue to engage and listen to constructive suggestions and in particular suggestions about keeping the headquarters at Bircham. However, they are now telling us that it is pretty well a done deal and that they plan to a sign a lease later this year and complete the move by January 2020. I feel personally very let down by the new chairman but apart from anything else this decision is completely illogical and ill thought out.”
“Moving away from Bircham at this stage will be extremely costly, highly disruptive and will completely remove senior CITB management from Bircham just at the time when they need to be on hand to oversee the relationship with the new training provider; and drive forward the master plan for this site. If they move everyone to Peterborough there is absolutely no way they are going to be able to play a constructive and dynamic role in sorting out Bircham’s future.”
Henry went on to say that: “This is actually a thoroughly cowardly decision by an organisation that is fast losing the trust and confidence of its staff and local residents. After all, it was only last week that I received a very large petition signed by over 2,000 employees and local residents.”
“What the CITB seem to completely forget is that they raise their money through a Statutory Levy approved by Parliament; and this obviously means that the cannot just go around behaving like a private sector organisation that can ignore local MPs, local Councils and the local LEP.”
“This is why I am now calling on the CITB to abandon the daft idea of moving to Peterborough as their only specific alternative; to go on genuinely consulting on staying at Bircham in line with what we were originally promised.”
29th June 2018
On 29th June 2018 Henry received a petition gathered by the employees of the CITB and local residents, which received 2,130 signatures. The fact that the petition managed to attract such a large number of signatures is testament to the strength of feeling held by the local community.
Commenting on the petition Henry stated: “What this petition illustrates is that there is massive concern about not just the loss of jobs but also the loss of intent and control over the future of the site if the CITB sticks to its current plans.”
Furthermore, Henry recently met with the new Chairman of the CITB, Peter Lauener, where he stressed that any move from Bircham Newton to Peterborough would be a disaster.
20th June 2018
- Henry has recently met the new CITB chairman Peter Lauener.
- Henry has held a meeting with The Right Honourable Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships.
- Henry has a meeting planned with Dominic Raab MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, as seen in the above photo, and Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under Sectary of State for Industry and Energy.
Commenting Henry said: "I have continued my incredibly strong representations to the new CITB chairman and the relevant Ministers regarding the CITB headquarters consolation. I take the view that it would be disastrous if the headquarters was moved from Bircham, not just because the CITB need to keep senior management at Bircham but to oversee the Master Plan for that part of the site that will no longer be needed for training purposes where there is massive potential for job creations."
Henry is also shortly due to receive a petition from the union Unite. Henry "saluted" the determination of the CITB staff fighting for this world class organisation.
22nd March 2018
Henry said that he was relieved that the CITB are not going to move their HQ from Bircham straight away, nevertheless, he was disappointed the Board do wish to move at the end of 2019.
Commenting Henry said: “I argued very strongly that it would have been a disaster for the CITB to move straight away, above all, because it would have removed their senior management from Bircham just at the time when key decision makers were needed on site to discuss the future training arrangements, plus the Master Plan for Bircham Newton.”
Henry went on to say: “I think the CITB are making a mistake going out to consultation with a recommendation for a move at the end of 2019, but this does give us a chance to persuade the incoming Chairman that they should stay at Bircham (no appointment has yet been made but it is expected that the incoming Chairman will take office in the middle of this year).”
“I will personally be leaving no stone unturned, when working alongside my colleagues such as Elizabeth Truss MP, to persuade the new Chairman that the HQ should be permanently kept at Bircham. I will also be making this point very strongly to the 3 sponsoring Ministers across Government.”
15th November 2017
MP demands full consultation and commitment to keep the HQ at Bircham.
Commenting on today’s CITB announcement that they were going to consult on divesting themselves of all training activities, and put in place plans to move the HQ to Peterborough. Henry Bellingham said: “The latest proposals were ill-thought-out, very poorly costed and take little or no account of the CITB’s historic role and position in our community”.
Henry Bellingham MP went on to say that whilst he was reluctantly prepared to support the sale of their Card Scheme and their Awarding Body, and whilst he accepted the industry’s demand that the CITB divest themselves of direct training provision, his 2 red lines were: first of all, a new training provider taking over at Bircham Newton, and secondly, CITB keeping their HQ at Bircham Newton.
Henry said: “I do entirely understand the clear demand from the construction industry who, after all pay the CITB’s levy, for the CITB to give up direct training. However, the facilities at Bircham Newton are world-class, and it is absolutely essential that the CITB work with new potential providers to ensure that they keep existing training staff at Bircham.”
“Secondly, it is a gross insult to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk for CITB leadership to suggest that the HQ could be moved to Peterborough on the grounds that Lynn lacks the necessary specialist skills. If Lynn is good enough for world class companies like Mars Foods, Bespak, Palm Paper and our growing cluster of specialist engineering companies, it is quite ridiculous for the CITB to complain that they cannot find the right skill levels.”
“Furthermore, once the CITB have moved out of direct training provision, their HQ will by definition slim down, so this this is all the more reason for keeping it at Bircham.”
Henry also said that it was essential that the CITB Chairman and Chief Executive “work with myself, other elected representatives, the Borough Council, the County Council and Parish Councils to draw up a Master Plan for the future of those parts of Bircham Newton which will be no longer required for training and the HQ”. Commenting Henry said: “Indeed, there could be a really good opportunity to put together a Master Plan that maximises the potential of this really quite unique site. On the other hand, if we do not get this right, the site could become a rundown liability.”
Henry concluded by saying: “For the past 50 plus years, West Norfolk has hosted the CITB and worked alongside them in helping to supply the industry with the necessary skills. It really does seem completely perverse that at a time when the industry needs more specialist skills and more innovative reskilling, the CITB are thinking of completely pulling out of Bircham. The current senior leadership of the CITB are in danger of taking ill-thought-out and retrograde decisions that could well damage the reputation of the CITB beyond repair. Indeed, I would go as far as saying that unless these proposals are reconsidered, the CITB could find itself being completely abolished.”
Petition image: courtesy of The Lynn News