UUP Councillors have slammed local MP Gregory Campbell for failing to “rally” councillors over the threat of DVLA job losses in County Hall.
It is feared 259 jobs will be moved from Coleraine to Swansea as part of ongoing centralisation in the DVLA. Councillors David Barbour and William McCandless, speaking at the Policy and Development Committee meeting on Tuesday evening, weren’t happy at how the DUP’s Campbell handled the situation.
Barbour complained: “It’s been coming for 18 months. The council did not know and weren’t told about it until the last minute. We’re very shocked about it. We should all get together and work out a strategy in advance for the good of all involved.”
McCandless was also disappointed that the council were not notified about the potential job losses sooner and claimed that, “It’s disappointing that the MP and MLAs didn’t rally us sooner. If we had garnered all of our resources, we might have had a more positive outcome. A concerted effort could have had significant weight. We can’t do anything about it now.”
McCandless hastened to add “this is not an attack on the DUP. It’s not one party attacking another” but DUP councillors at the meeting leapt to Campbell’s defence.
“It (potential job losses) had been reported in the (Coleraine) Chronicle three or four times over the last two years. Were we all really surprised? The MP has worked very hard on the matter,” said Mayor Maurice Bradley while councillors Mark Fielding and James McClure shared his sentiments.
Town Clerk and Chief Executive Roger Wilson agreed that there was “wide knowledge” of the DVLA’s centralisation.
Wilson also claimed that the job losses “would be a devastating blow and we will do all we can to ensure the jobs are kept. For a town like Coleraine, losing them would have a huge impact.”
Wilson added that “all of the lobbying and pressure that can be applied is being applied”.
More positively, councillors praised the decision to open a new prison at Magilligan.
“This will create new jobs, keep current jobs and I’m very pleased at the decision,” said councillor McClure.