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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Licensing centre job loss fears
DUP's Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell raised his concerns in parliament
A DUP MP is seeking clarification on the future of Driver and Vehicle Licensing offices in Northern Ireland amid fears of job losses.

There is speculation work could be transferred from Coleraine, where 400 people are employed, to the agency's national headquarters in Swansea.

The move would be part of a merger of all licensing authorities in the UK.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, who has raised concerns in parliament, said any job losses would be resisted.

"I am seeking immediate clarification as to whether the government is trying to close the DVLNI operation in Northern Ireland and transfer its functions to Swansea," he said.

"Over 400 people are currently employed at the agency in Coleraine and if such a transfer were to take place then the resultant job loss would devastate the local economy with a loss of wages and salaries of between 8m and 10m.

"I am led to believe that a feasibility study conducted between October 2004 and March 2005 reached a wide range of conclusions."

Efficiency savings

The proposal to merge all vehicle divisions throughout the UK has come from the DVLA in Swansea.

It put forward the plan as a way of making efficiency savings in development costs and management re-structuring.

Mr Campbell said he had sought "specific assurances" from the minister that the department was not considering the closure of the Coleraine office.

The Federation of Small Businesses said the proposal could affect the length of time it takes to get a vehicle licence.

Spokesperson Kieran McShane said: "If the government are considering this, then they should really think again, as it will result in greater delays in people getting licences and mean that driver training schools are unable to begin courses and lose business.

"Given that we are already still trying to get through the backlog of driving tests caused by last year's NIPSA strike, then this move could be the last straw for some of our members."

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