ENVIRONMENT Minister Alex Attwood said that “no decision” had been taken in respect to the future of the DVA in Coleraine, after a meeting between Minister Attwood and Department for Transport Minister Stephen Hammond.
Speaking after the meeting last Tuesday, Minister Attwood, pictured, said: “Minister Hammond confirmed to me that ‘no decision’ has been taken about the future of the DVA in Coleraine. Given the fully justified concern of recent days around the DVA jobs, it was very important that the London Government cleared the air.
“That said, the campaign to save Coleraine jobs continues. I firmly outlined to Minister Hammond that for a range of very strong reasons the jobs in Coleraine needed protection.
“I firmly made it clear that no decisions could be taken without a full assessment of the impact of any decision on vehicle licensing staff, customers, the local economy and Northern Ireland generally.”
Minister Attwood made the further point that there also had to be a proper consultation with stakeholders in relation to the future of DVA.
“Minister Hammond said that he would consider the points that I had made and that we would talk again.
“It was made fully clear to the DfT Minister that consultation with stakeholders and the assessment of the impact of any decision had been the accepted way forward, as agreed by myself and previous DfT Ministers. I made it crystal clear that I was relying that this approach would hold and I trust that London will not change this approach.
“The argument for the retention of jobs in Coleraine is compelling on economic, political and human terms. I have made this point repeatedly over the last 20 months to DfT. The points were made again today.
“I shall be quickly writing to Stephen Hammond to press my argument and hope that I will meet him again soon,” said Minister Attwood.
During Northern Ireland questions in the House of Commons last week East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell asked the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers MP if she would ensure that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency office in Coleraine is retained and speak with the Transport Minister about the issue.
Mr Campbell said: “The Secretary of State indicated that the Transport Minister should listen to the views of the people in Northern Ireland.”
In her reply Ms Villiers said: “ I am very much aware of the importance of this issue .
“I was in the Coleraine area only last week, and I have discussed this matter with the Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond.
“He is aware of the concern felt in Northern Ireland.”
A statement from the local Ulster Unionist Party said: “The UUP group of councillors support any efforts being made to save around 230 DVA jobs in Coleraine and around 300 in the wider area.
“We all hope that Minister Attwood who is showing a robust stance will be able to secure success in a town and province that cannot afford more job losses.
“We encourage our electorate to write to Mr Attwood MLA so that he can show the support he has in this vital campaign.”