Implication that DVA staff are bias is ‘outrageous’ says Minister

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

STAFF at the DVLA in Coleraine say that they feel ‘insulted’ by the consultation on the future of their jobs.

Around 250 jobs are under threat at County Hall as the Government seeks to move the department to a central location in Wales.

One staff member, who has worked in the County Hall for over 12 years told The Times: “We really feel insulted by this consultation, especially the section on Equality Analysis. We have read this document from cover to cover several times, and to be honest the part about staff being biased on the grounds of religion is just another low blow - it’s just an insult to the staff.”

On closer inspection of the consultation, it states in the section under Equality Analysis: “Although no issues were raised through the UK wide consultation, it is accepted that the issue of discrimination on the grounds of religion is a highly sensitive issue within NI.

“Given that these proposals will result in enhanced services for all areas of NI, the DVLA is confident that these proposals have a neutral impact on all religious groups within NI. Furthermore, centralisation at the DVLA will in fact remove any possibility that NI services may be biased to any particular religious group, since these transactions will no longer be serviced by staff based in NI, who could themselves hold particular beliefs.”

The Coleraine Times contacted the Department, and in a statement Minister Mark H Durkan said he would continue to oppose the proposals: “While it is a matter for DVLA in Swansea to comment on the statements contained in the consultation documents, the implication in their documents that there could be any bias by staff in DVA in the delivery of services to customers is outrageous.

“Staff in DVA have an exemplary record of the highest possible standards of service to all customers. This totally inappropriate comment by DVLA is reflective of the poor quality of the DVLA consultation. Not only is it wrong that a consultation is being carried out in the middle of summer and for the shortest possible period of 8 weeks, the whole exercise is one-sided, amounting more to a statement of intention by DVLA , rather than a proper and meaningful consultation that sets out, and seeks opinions on, all the possible options for the future delivery of vehicle licensing services in Northern Ireland.