Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland escapes cull of DVA branches – for now

By Adrian Rutherford

The Northern Ireland branches of the Driver and Vehicle Agency will remain open — at least in the short term — despite Westminster announcing plans to close dozens of regional offices.

A plan to centralise the agency’s services will see 39 branches shut across England, Scotland and Wales in a move affecting more than 1,200 staff.

However, the Coleraine headquarters which employs around 260 people, and seven other local offices, will not be affected, according to Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

“The Driver and Vehicle Agency will continue to deliver vehicle licensing services to motorists here from Coleraine and the seven other locations around Northern Ireland,” he said.

“I welcome the confirmation in the statement by the Secretary of State for Transport that DVLA will continue to work to make the full range of vehicle licensing services available to customers here.”

Under the plans, the agency’s services would be centralised in Swansea.

The closures, due by the end of 2013, could save about £26m a year.

For now, Northern Ireland isn’t affected, however, a consultation on the future delivery of vehicle licensing is taking place.

Mr Attwood said he made it very clear to ministers in London that there was no justification for reducing local jobs or services in Northern Ireland.

“I will oppose any plan to take work from here to Swansea,” he added.

“This is not the time, in these very difficult economic conditions, to be cutting public sector jobs,” he said.

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