The crippling effects of the lost DVA job in Coleraine will be felt for many years to come it’s been claimed.
There was anger and shock in County Hall on Thursday morning when it was announced by ministers in London, to centralise all vehicle licensing services in Swansea and to close all motor tax offices in Northern Ireland.
In total 309 equivalent full-time jobs are affected with 240 based in Coleraine and 69 across other offices in Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Omagh.
The offices are expected to close at the end of the year and it’s hoped that all the staff can be redeployed across other parts of the civil service.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he was “outraged” at Thursday’s announcement.
“He said: “This is devastating news for all the hard working staff of the DVA and their families.
“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.”
Local traders also expressed shock at the loss of passing trade from County Hall.
Butcher Frank Mullan said :“I estimate their business makes up about 30% of our income and without it I’m very worried for ourselves and for Coleraine in general,” he said.
“Coleraine has become a ghost town, the town centre is dead and this is just another nail in the coffin. That trade was a lifeline to so many of us.”
Robin Smith, assistant manager of the nearby Spar, added: “We do a very busy trade, especially in the morning and lunchtime from County Hall. You can see in people’s faces today that they are disgruntled and that’s understandable, it’s a tragedy for the town.
“This is the latest blow in a town that appears to be crumbling around us. DVA is probably the biggest single employer left in the town and there just doesn’t seem to be any end to the exodus.”
Gary Davis, owner of the Turf&Surf chip shop, commented: “I employ seven people at the minute and their jobs may all be impacted by the job losses up the road, that’s how much of a ripple effect this will have.”