Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan has described the loss of over three hundred jobs in the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) as a devastating blow.
The Minister was making his comments in response to London’s centralisation of all vehicle licensing services in Swansea and to close all motor tax offices in Northern Ireland.
He said: “This is devastating news for all the hard working staff of the DVA and their families. I am outraged at the announcement today (Thursday, March 13) by Ministers in London that they intend to move all vehicle licensing work to Swansea and to close all the motor tax offices here.
“Motorists in Northern Ireland are accustomed to getting a very high standard of service from the DVA and no doubt this will be significantly affected when the service is delivered remotely from Swansea.
“The dedicated staff in DVA will also feel completely betrayed by this decision. They have consistently demonstrated their efficiency, hard work and commitment, producing customer satisfaction levels of over 97 per cent.
“During the public consultation on these centralisation proposals, the motor trade and the motoring public demonstrated their overwhelming support for retaining local delivery of vehicle licensing and confirmed their high regard for the work of DVA. This announcement completely ignores all of these facts.
“This is purely a narrowly focussed cost-cutting exercise made with no regard whatsoever for standards of service, the impact on customers, or the wider impact on the economy of Northern Ireland and, in particular, of Coleraine.
“I have consistently made it clear to Ministers in London that there is no justification for the centralisation of these services and jobs in Swansea. In these representations I have had the full support of all of my Ministerial colleagues and of MLAs, councillors and others right across the political spectrum.
“This decision represents the loss of funding for over 300 jobs, 235 of which are in Coleraine and an assessment by independent economists estimates that the knock-on impact will equate to the loss of around 500 jobs and will remove £22million from the economy.”
He said he appreciated this was a very worrying time for staff and their families, who will be feeling very let down.