DVA loss would result in £22m blow to economy

County Hall in Coleraine. INCR36-106MJ
County Hall in Coleraine. INCR36-106MJ
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The local economy would loose around £22 million pre year if jobs go at the DVA in Coleraine.

The shocking figure was given to Coleraine councillors attending a meeting last Tuesday afternoon.

At the meeting, members agreed to respond to the consultation on the future of the DVA in Northern Ireland.

The consultation closes next week, on Septmeber 11.

Proposals to centralise the service to Wales would result in the loss of over 230 jobs from the Coleraine office.

Speaking at the meeting, Maura Mann, Head of Development Services spoke about the impact the jobs losses would have on the town.

She also highlighted the ‘high peformance’ of staff in Coleraine.

The Head of Council’s Development Services explained that DVA staff in Coleraine had an ‘exemplary record’ of delivering high standards of service.

She said: “ In performance monitoring the Coleraine office has an exemplary record surely a move would result in the lowering of standards in the service provided.”

Ms Mann also pointed out that a shift of the service to Wales would take away choice from users.

“Members of the public would no longer be able to walk in and use the service,” she said.

She added that the loss of the jobs would have a multiplier effect on the town.

She explained that it would result in a loss of around £22 million per year from the local economy, and would be a futher blow to recovery attempts for the Northern Ireland economy.

“We must do everything in our power to retain these jobs,” said Ms Mann.

Members unanimously backed the reccommendation to respond to the consultation.

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick said: “There is no reason with the technology that we have now that these jobs have to be moved.

“We have the most efficient staff here in Northern Ireland.”

He went on to say: “We should be contacting our MPs and asking them to lobby on our behalf.”

DUP councillor Sam Cole added: “It would be a travesty to take these jobs to Wales.

“We can’t afford to loose any more jobs.”

DUP Alderman Maurice Bradley pointed out that the MP, Gregory Campbell has been active on this issue, he added: “ We have a high speed cable here in Coleraine, why can’t this be used.

“It is vigtal taht we keep these jobs.”

UUP councillor David Barbour quetioned why the ‘efficient’ staff in Coleraine were being penalised, he added: “The Prime Minister spoke about being Prime Minister for the whole of the UK, now is the time for us to see this.”

UUP councillor Norman Hillis described the issue as a ‘very serious threat’.

He added: “It is essential that we all pull together on this. We need our fair share of Government jobs here too.”

The UUP man pointed out that the absense of the service in Coleraine would have an impact on those in the community that are not IT literate. “There is definately a case for a local centre,” said the UUP man.

Adding to the debate, DUP Alderman James McClure said: “We must work together to keep these jobs.

“The workers there have done a magnificent job.

“We need to dig our heels in and make sure these jobs stay in Coleraine.”

Concluding the dedate, the Mayor, councillor David Harding: “It is important that the message goes out from this council that there is cross party support for retaining these jobs.”

He also pointed out that DVA staff in Coleraine have set up an e-petition. The Mayor urged members to sign the e-peition and resond to the consultation document individually.