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Archived news release from 01 February 2006
Community celebrates opening with ‘Tea at The Savoy’
"Tea at The Savoy" was first choice on the menu at the official opening of a flagship £4.5 million neighbourhood learning and employability centre in Dudley.
The Savoy Centre, built on the site of the former Savoy cinema in Northfield Road, Netherton, will act as a gateway to employment to the local community living in one of the most deprived areas of Dudley.
State-of-the-art facilities include an ICT training suite and office facilities, together with modern function and conference rooms. Limited childcare is also available to local families to help parents enter the job market.
Three Victorian police houses and the old fire station adjacent to the new centre have been transformed into modern workshops and social enterprise units and a community café is planned for the future.
The building, funded by Dudley Council, Advantage West Midlands, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, was officially opened by Michael Cashman, MEP for the West Midlands and the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Ian Kettle.
Councillor Kettle said:
"This is a wonderful new facility boosting regeneration in our area by increasing skills, labour value and average earnings. The investment will enhance the local economy, raise aspirations and create a better quality of life for the people of Dudley."
David Blake, director for the Black Country Advantage West Midlands, said:
"A strong management team has steered this project through the construction stage and with the help of almost £2 million from the Agency’s Arc of Opportunity regeneration zone, the project is creating 12 new jobs, 439 learning opportunities, seven new businesses and assisting 209 people into employment."
The Savoy Centre is built in the Netherton, Woodside and St Andrews Ward, the third most deprived ward in Dudley Borough with an unemployment rate of eight per cent – twice the Dudley average. The ward is also among the 11 per cent most deprived wards in the country.
Research has shown the lack of existing learning facilities in the area for post 16-year-olds especially with full accessibility and appeal to non-learners. Further study by the Dudley Learning and Skills Council highlighted that 10 per cent of employers in the Black Country are experiencing skills gaps and 20 per cent demand increased customer service and ICT skills. The report also indicates that lack of affordable childcare for single-parent families is a major barrier to work.

Release Date: 01 February 2006
Directorate: Education and Lifelong Learning
Contact: Phil Parker, Marketing and communications
Phone: 01384 815219
Email: phil.parker@dudley.gov.uk