Consultation on Coleraine DVA jobs

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

Environment Minister, Alex Attwood has annoucend that Westminster will undertake a consultation on the future of Driver and Vehicle Licensing (DVA) jobs at County Hall in Coleraine.

There has been ongoing speculation over job losses at the Coleraine base, as the Department of Transport undergoes a process of centralising the service.

Mr Attwood has said that retaining the posts has been a priority for him since he became Environment Minister 20 months ago.

In February he went to London to make the case for retaining the DVA offices.

Mr Attwood said on Thursday that he welcomed the decision by the UK government.

“Over the last two years, I have made the argument again and again with the Department for Transport and recently with Minister Stephen Hammond that there needed to be a proper consultation around the DVA jobs and a full assessment of impact,” he said.

“I welcome that my arguments have prevailed and acknowledge that Stephen Hammond has listened.

“The decision to close vehicle licensing offices in Britain has already been taken and is happening. There have been messages out of London that the same was about to happen here.

“The new consultation now creates space to escalate the argument that the jobs in Coleraine must be saved and that what is happening in Britain does not happen here.”

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency announced in December 2011 that it was considering shutting down its 39 centres and basing its services in Swansea.

In Coleraine DVA has around 300 staff doing licensing work and Minister Attwood warned the impact of centralising the roles would be great.

“The job losses would be big. To offer help to Northern Ireland on one hand, with the recent economic pact, but on the other hand, to end up with 300 plus DVA job losses is not credible,” he said.

“These are the arguments that I will maximise in the new consultation working with the parties and political representations and unions. I believe there are good arguments to retain the jobs and I will work to achieve this.”

He commented that the Thursday’s announcement was a “partial outcome” and he will continue to work with the UK Transport Minister to persuade his department to protect the jobs