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Cabinet considers shift to more local adult learning venues

Norfolk County Council, 23 June 2023 00:00

A new approach to adult learning, due to more online sessions and a shift to more local venues, is being considered by the County Council's cabinet.

A report to cabinet on July 3 proposes to focus on accessible community venues and cease providing courses at Norwich's under-utilised and expensive to maintain Wensum Lodge from next year.

Cabinet member for communities, Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, said: "The service has been working hard to make it easier for more people to access opportunities for learning. Our focus has been on expanding the service into communities across Norfolk and enabling easier access.

"With further plans to increase community-based delivery, having a large single headquarters-style building at Wensum Lodge in Norwich no longer fits with our vision for the service. It is now obvious that it no longer provides the sort of accommodation our courses need and that it is time to move out altogether."

The report says 8,000 people use the adult learning service each year and 37% of them use online courses.

It says the service is targeting people who live in the 30% most deprived wards in Norfolk and, to assist this, it is increasingly using venues which are more accessible to communities, including:

  • Attleborough Community and Enterprise Centre
  • Great Yarmouth Library
  • King's Lynn Library
  • Millennium Library, Norwich
  • Norman Centre, Norwich
  • Charing Cross Centre, Norwich
  • Swaffham Community Centre
  • Construction Training Hub, Hellesdon

Courses will also be provided at the following new venues, which are being developed:

  • Construction Training Hub, King's Lynn
  • Great Yarmouth Library and Learning Centre
  • King's Lynn Multi-User Community Hub

The report says: "Wensum Lodge site is significantly under-utilised and increasingly cost inefficient; utilisation of the space available on site is consistently below 30%.

"Learners have an expectation that we provide high quality, modern and accessible learning environments. This is a challenge from the Wensum Lodge site because the layout and nature of the buildings mean that many rooms and facilities are not accessible for all learners.

"Access to the site itself can also be a challenge for some learners, particularly disabled learners, as the cobbles and camber of the surface outside are a challenge for some learners with mobility challenges to navigate and parking on site is very limited and whilst the site it is located in Norwich city centre, it is not close to a bus stop or public transport."

Members of the cabinet will decide whether to cease adult learning activities at Wensum Lodge from next year onwards. If so, the same meeting will decide whether to dispose of the property. The neighbouring sports centre is not affected by the proposals.

If the proposals are approved, staff and funding currently allocated to Wensum Lodge would be redeployed to other adult learning venues.

Cabinet will discuss the report when it meets at 10am on Monday, 3 July. You can read the reports and watch the meeting, live or afterwards online.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45

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