The Minister of the Environment has revealed that he has encouraged his Assembly colleagues to divert moreemployment to Coleraine following the loss of 210 jobs at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing.
And in a reply to a written question from SDLP MLA, John Dallat, Mark H Durkan said it was too early to assess the impact of the removal of vehicle licensing services on the Coleraine area.
Vehicle Licensing was previously administered in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA), however the service was transferred to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swanseain July.
In his reply to Mr Dallat, the Minister said: “There are 210 DVA staff based in Coleraine, who previously carried out this work. Of that number 86 have been redeployed to alternative permanent posts, 107 have been allocated temporary work inthe Coleraine area, with the remainder allocated temporary work elsewhere or on maternity/sickness absence. In addition
“I have transferred 70 existingposts from Belfast to Coleraine, 40 of which have been filled permanently by surplus DVA staff. My officials have also agreed a voluntaryexit/redundancy scheme to offer all staff in the area at the affected grades an option to seek a voluntary exit, and thereby create additional permanent vacancies for remaining surplus DVA staff.
“DVLA has recently agreed a funding package for the scheme, which will launch in November 2014, with staff being released by end March 2015.
I commissioned independent economic advice to support my case to Ministers in the Department for Transport that the retention of vehicle licensing services provided by DVA in Coleraine was important to the health of the local economy.
However, given the mitigating measures that I have taken to continue to provide work for the DVA staff in Coleraine, it is too early to be specific about thefull extent and longer term impact of the removal of vehicle licensing services on the Coleraine area at this stage.”
The Minister re-stated his determination to divert as many jobs to Coleraine as he cold.
He said: “I have encouraged Executive colleagues to allocatefurther work to the area to support the local economy, and I welcome the support of the Minister for Social Development, whose department hasalready transferred temporary work to the County Hall site.
The vehicle licensing agency has been swamped by motorists enquiries, as the traditional road disc is ditched for an electronic system.
Earlier this month the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said it was struggling to cope with what it said was “unprecedented demand”. Motorists reported lengthy queues on the enquiry line and a slow website.