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Gordon Brown comes to Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:30 16 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:09 02 July 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown meeting students and staff at Great Yarmouth College.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown meeting students and staff at Great Yarmouth College.

Stephen Pullinger

Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended the Government's controversial move to grant "home rule" to Norwich during his whirlwind visit to Great Yarmouth College.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended the Government's controversial move to grant “home rule” to Norwich during his whirlwind visit to Great Yarmouth College.

Dropping in on a constituency acknowledged to be one of the key marginal seats in the up-coming general election, he wanted the theme of his visit to be jobs - but he was quickly asked for his views on Norfolk's local government shake-up.

When challenged that the decision to grant unitary status flew in the face of advice from the independent Boundary Committee which had recommended a Norfolk unitary, he replied that “the key thing is the region's future economic development”.

Mr Brown said while Norwich was moving forward with its own plan he was conscious that MPs Tony Wright and Bob Blizzard had lobbied for a unitary for Yarmouth and Waveney.

“We are doing what we believe are the right things for the different areas and different communities,” he said.

He stressed that the government's emphasis over the coming year would be on jobs and declared that the theme of his visit to the college.

Describing the Government's commitment to the area as “very big indeed”, he said that across the Eastern region, 20,000 businesses had received assistance and 3,000 young people helped into jobs and training in recent times.

“The Government is determined to never have youth unemployment as bad for places like Yarmouth as it has been in the past,” he said.

In terms of job creation in the region, Mr Brown alluded to the “very big contribution” offshore wind power could make as a “new use for the North Sea” was developed, flagging up the investment in Yarmouth's outer harbour.

Escorted on a tour of the campus's new £8m construction centre, Mr Brown - accompanied by principal Robin Parkinson and local MP Mr Wright - chatted to students in boat-building and plumbing and met a group of NHS apprentices studying business administration.

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