The economic benefits brought about by the creation of the North West Bicester eco town are beginning to be felt locally through increased employment and apprenticeship opportunities.
At last Thursday’s (23 October) meeting of the Eco Bicester Strategic Delivery Board, members heard more about the Employment and Training Management Plan (ETMP) which has been submitted by lead developer A2Dominion and approved by Cherwell District Council.
The document outlined the efforts being undertaken to create opportunities for local businesses during the five year construction of the phase one Exemplar site, including a pledge to use at least 20 per cent of labour living within a 20-mile radius, the establishment of a local business portal and £5,000 annual contributions during the construction of the Exemplar to Bicester Job Club.
Cllr Norman Bolster, Cherwell’s lead member for estates and economy, said: “The creation of the North West Bicester eco town is about more than delivery of 6,000 sustainable homes; it is about using this as an opportunity to create a strong and vibrant local economy and opportunities for businesses within the area. What the Employment and Training Management Plan does is outline exactly how that will be achieved and it is encouraging to see that during the six months of construction there are already real prospects on offer to those working in the local construction industry.”
Members of the delivery board heard how, in April 2012, A2Dominion launched a business portal on the North West Bicester project website enabling local companies within a 50-mile radius of the site to register an interest in the scheme and be notified of appropriate opportunities to tender for works on this ground breaking project. To date, 198 registrations had been received and A2Dominion’s principle contractor, Wilmott Dixon, has so far issued 11 of 15 work packages to companies based within a 50-mile radius.
The meeting also heard six Bicester companies were currently being used to supply materials and contracts were in the process of being placed with electrical, plumbing and metalwork sub-contractors, all within a 50-mile radius. Furthermore, of the 50 workers currently on site, 23 per cent live within 20 miles of the site. The first Exemplar phase also promises to create ten construction apprenticeships.
In addition to the onsite contributions, A2Dominion has also committed to allocating £5,000 per annum to Bicester Job Club to offer added value support and help local people access opportunities arising on site.
Louise Caves, strategic partnership manager for A2Dominion said: “We are committed to sharing the economic benefits of North West Bicester with local businesses and people. In addition to the business portal which stores the details of local companies to be considered for tendering on latter phases, we are working closely with Willmott Dixon to offer a range of opportunities for people to get involved in the first phase from full time jobs and vocational apprenticeships to six month work placements and two week work experience opportunities.
“With construction of the first homes to due to commence in early November, we believe it’s a really exciting way for local people to be part of such a pioneering and ground-breaking project.”
Work is already under way to construct the first phase of the project, known as the Exemplar site, which will consist of 393 zero carbon homes, a primary school, shop, eco-pub and community centre. For more information about business, job or apprenticeship opportunities at North West Bicester visit www.nwbicester.co.uk to register.