College sets sights on growth dream

Blackpool and the Fylde College bosses are looking to expand.
Blackpool and the Fylde College bosses are looking to expand.
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Expansion plans are on the horizon at a Blackpool college after it won a slice of a £230m windfall for Lancashire.

Blackpool and The Fylde College bosses have confirmed they are looking at sites along the M55 for a new training facility as they aim to boost the college’s profile.

It was awarded £6.2m of Government cash as part of the Lancashire Growth Deal, announced last week, to improve facilities.

The cash will help set up an Energy HQ for Lancashire – putting it at the heart of the growing industry.

Daryl Platt, executive director of commercial development at the college, said: “This is great news for Lancashire. The Lancashire Energy HQ will support industry by supplying job ready students with the required skills, knowledge and training, and give the people of Lancashire and the Fylde coast the best opportunity to secure jobs in this field.”

The money will come next year and will be backed up by £5.8m from other sources, including the college – bringing the total investment to £12m.

College bosses are now involved in discussions that could help shape national energy policy, including regulating the developing shale and onshore gas industry.

The Government has suggested Blackpool is being considered as a base for any future regulatory body.

Whitehall has also pledged to work with the college on its application to gain national energy college status.

Mr Platt added: “This new investment in an Energy HQ, backed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (the county-wide business body which negotiated the Growth Deal), is a clear signal that Lancashire has the potential to be central to any industry led proposals.

“We believe any additional regulatory functions should be accommodated within the national college.”

Edwin Booth, chairman of the LEP, which is designed to drive economic growth and is made up of businesses, universities and councils, said it would be “absolutely brilliant” if the college could achieve national energy college status.

He added: “This investment, backed up with strong industry support, places Lancashire firmly at the heart of an emerging centre of expertise in developing a skilled workforce for the energy sector.”

A college spokesman said talks were at an early stage but discussions were being held with local authorities about the plans.

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