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Hopes high for £20m Thetford college

PUBLISHED: 07:26 14 May 2009 | UPDATED: 21:33 07 July 2010

Hopes for a new £20m college in Thetford have been given a boost this week after a government minister "expressed his full support" for the project.

South West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser met Sion Simon, the under secretary of state for further education, to talk about the viability of a new college in the town on Monday.

Hopes for a new £20m college in Thetford have been given a boost this week after a government minister “expressed his full support” for the project.

South West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser met Sion Simon, the under secretary of state for further education, to talk about the viability of a new college in the town on Monday.

It followed fears that plans for the new learning centre could be affected by a cash crisis at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). As previously reported, the LSC is facing a funding crisis and the financial problems could hit many Norfolk college projects.

Mr Fraser said: “Monday's preliminary meeting was extremely positive. The minister expressed his full support for a new Thetford College and clearly understood the real need for an innovative 14 to 19 education facility in the town.

“We were all reassured by the minister that plans for a new college would not be affected by the current difficulties at the LSC.

“He has now agreed to help us move the project forward by writing to his ministerial colleague, who is responsible for the 16 to 19 capital funding pot, to set out the persuasive case that we made for the initiative. We are now waiting for a date to meet the minister for schools and learning to take this matter forward with him.

“We all want to see Thetford progress from the problems of deprivation and under-attainment that have been historically associated with it.

“This project is an exciting prospect for local people and I look forward to seeing the plans develop positively in the near future.”

David Lawrence, principal of Easton College, Trevor Holden, chief executive of Breckland Council, Fred Corbett, deputy director of Children's Services at Norfolk County Council, and Ann Williams, principal of West Suffolk College, also attended Monday's meeting.

A partnership has been set up to move forward the project for a 14 to 19 learning centre in Thetford and several possible sites have already been looked at.

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