A major West Norfolk employer has announced it still intends to forge ahead with relocation plans, which could potentially jeopardise 600 jobs.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has held talks with representatives from West Norfolk keen for the firm to stay at its Bircham Newton base rather than move to Peterborough.
However, this week, the board announced the company is to remain at its current site only until next December to allow time to work with local stakeholders and shape the future development of the site.
It also intends to try to sell parts of the site this year.
CITB previously outlined in its Vision 2020 report that a third of the site’s 575-strong workforce could move to Peterborough while two thirds could work remotely.
The company is also set to stop training staff at the National Construction College and outsource departments.
The company said the sale of the training college was expected in the summer. The remainder of the site could go on the market following this sale.
Maria Pilfold, CITB board member, said: “After careful consideration, we decided to maintain presence at Bircham Newton no later than the end of 2019, recognising a small number of roles which may be needed to oversee, final exit arrangements or development.
“CITB will keep its promise to industry to reform, moving to a new single head office site in 2020 which is a crucial element of our proposals.
“This decision offers further clarity to CITB colleagues and will enable the business to start formal consultations with employees in the near future.”
The announcement has been met with mixed reaction by North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.
He said: “I argued very strongly that it would be 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.
“I think CITB is 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 they should stay at Bircham.
“I will be leaving no stone unturned to persuade the chairman that the HQ should be permanently kept at Bircham. I will also be making this point very strongly to the three sponsoring ministers across government.”