Environment Minister to battle for Coleraine jobs

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NI’S Environment Minister is set for a showdown with his UK counterpart over plans to shift 300 Driver and Vehicle Agency jobs from Coleraine to Swansea in Wales.

Ahead of the meeting with the Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond in London this week, Mark H Durkan said he would be branding the controversial plans unfair and unrealistic.

“I will point out the disproportionate impact that the loss of over 300 jobs would have on the Northern Irelandeconomy, particularly on Coleraine,” the SDLP Environment Minister said.

“I will also challenge Mr Hammond to justify any cuts to jobs in Northern Ireland in the context of his Government’s commitments to help in the stimulation and development of the economy here as we seek to move out of a recession that has been more acute and sustained than in other parts of the UK.”

Mr Durkan also added: “It is unrealistic, especially given lower rates of uptake of online services here, to switch instantly to new delivery channels.”

There was broad cross party support for the jobs staying in the Province at a recent parliamentary debate raised by East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell.

The Under Secretary of State for Transport Robert Goodwill has told East Derry SDLP John Dallat that he has got his ear well and truly bent over the future of the three hundred workers based in the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Coleraine.

Mr Dallat who met Mr Goodwill in Westminster was accompanied by SDLP MPs Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie.

Mr Dallat said: “Mr Goodwill has been well briefed in the economic and indeed political consequences of 300 jobs being lost and moved to Wales.

“He said his ear has been well bent on the issue and my only concern is that he takes the necessary steps to copper-fasten the future of the DVA centre in Coleraine by directing investment in new technology and giving it a central role in the work of the DVLA as a whole.

““Our meeting was constructive and friendly and Mr Goodwill is well aware that the SDLP has never accepted this as a ‘done deal’