DVA JOBS FEARS

The DVA Driver and Vehicle Licensing offices for Northern Ireland at County Hall in Coleraine Co-Derry where it is feared up to 300 jobs may be lost due to closure. Minister Alex Atwood is due to hold talks with government ministers in London next week on the possible closure. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ��by-line  SEE STORY   28-2-13
The DVA Driver and Vehicle Licensing offices for Northern Ireland at County Hall in Coleraine Co-Derry where it is feared up to 300 jobs may be lost due to closure. Minister Alex Atwood is due to hold talks with government ministers in London next week on the possible closure. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ��by-line SEE STORY 28-2-13
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ENVIRONMENT Minister Alex Attwood is to have talks with the UK Transport Department today (Tuesday), over fears that hundreds of jobs could be lost at the DVLA in Coleraine.

There are plans to transfer more than 250 DVLA jobs to Swansea, as part of centralisation moves.

Mr Attwood, who is strenuously opposing the move, said: “That is why I backed industrial action by DVLA staff against London proposals to do this and centralise in Swansea.”

He said he had already held talks with the various parties concerned and the Department of Transport had given an assurance that no decision would be made without consulting him.

“I will hold London to that commitment and will continue the work of the last 20 months to protect jobs,” he said.

“London have made that pledge - it must not be reneged on.”

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) is the Ulster counterpart to the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the rest of the UK.

The two operate with different computer systems, but do the same kind of work.

But last year, there was a massive reorganisation of the DVLA in mainland Britain, with services centralised in Swansea, Wales.

It had long been feared that Northern Ireland’s offices may suffer the same fate.

The government wants to centralise the DVLA in Swansea and move more services online by the end of 2013.

As well as Coleraine, jobs would be lost in dozens of offices in the rest of the UK.

Ryan McKinney, from the NIPSA union said it was a serious issue for Coleraine and the area could lose 259 posts.

Mr McKinney said the “axe had been hanging over the staff” in Coleraine since December 2011.

“The staff are obviously very, very concerned that they potentially have the dole office to look forward to,” he said.

He said Mr Attwood would have a “tough job” to persuade the government to change their centralisation plans, as they seemed committed to them.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell of the DUP said every effort must be made to keep the jobs in Coleraine.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat has written to the Under Secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Hammond, asking him not to proceed with any job losses.