Hundreds of civil servants prepare for Ballykelly HQ switch

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Members of staff are to begin relocating to the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs headquarters at Ballykelly in March.

Confirmation that 240 employees are to move to the premises came from DAERA in a letter to East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.

Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery told the DUP representative the department is “currently on target to relocate 240 posts to the new building in Ballykelly, commencing the physical movement of staff in March 2018”.

The development has been welcomed locally.

Mr Campbell said: “This is good news for the entire North West that 240 civil service staff will commence work shortly at a new government department headquarters in Ballykelly.

“The investment has already created a number of construction jobs. Together with the 600 public sector jobs in total once construction is complete on the site; it provides a positive outlook for the future and will help the economy in an area of higher unemployment by providing good quality public sector jobs and other private sector employment opportunities.”

His views were echoed by party colleague George Robinson MLA, who said: “I firmly believe that the new HQ can be a cornerstone for the economic future of the North West. It is the responsibility of every elected representative to maximise the opportunities that will arise from this development.

“With the site located in an area where unemployment is a stark reality, I welcome the jobs and urge everyone to make full use of the opportunities for economic development as they arise.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald voiced her approval of the bid to decentralise hundreds of civil service jobs from Belfast.

She said: “News that 240 staff members will move to the £20 million facility in the first phase of relocation is to be welcomed. I look forward to more staff being located to the new headquarters over the next number of years through the relocation plan.”