450 extra jobs on way to DVLA headquarters in Swansea
AN EXTRA 450 jobs are on the way to the DVLA's Morriston headquarters following confirmation that 39 of its regional offices are being axed.
The UK Government is centralising all the driver agency's work at the Clase site, and said it hopes "some" of the staff facing redundancy across the country will want to transfer to Swansea — but it is not yet clear how many people will be involved in the move to South West Wales.
The three regional offices in Wales — in Swansea Vale, Bangor and Cardiff — are included in the cull, and the Welsh Secretary has confirmed the staff will be offered the chance to move to the main site. The closures are part of the government's plans to modernise the work of the DVLA and move more of its services online — ministers say going digital will save around £26 million a year.
Together the regional offices employ some 1,213 people.
UK Roads Minister, Mike Penning, said the changes would deliver a "smarter service" which would bring benefits for the motor industry and drivers.
He said: "I understand that the phased closure of the regional offices will come as a disappointment to those directly affected.
"I would like to thank the staff in these offices who have played an important part in DVLA service delivery over the years."
The regional offices — which are spread across the UK from Inverness to Norwich to Exeter — will be closed at the end of 2013. They carry out a range of administrative functions such as arranging trade plates for garages, and vehicle inspections.
Ten of the regional offices also house enforcement departments which carry out back-office duties in areas such as pursuing people who do not to their tax vehicles — this work is also being centralised in Swansea.
The changes have been welcomed by politicians off all parties. Lib Dem South Wales West AM and Swansea councillor Peter Black said: "Although this decision will have huge implications for other parts of the UK, the fact that the DVLA has chosen to consolidate its activities in Swansea is very welcome."
South Wales West Tory AM Byron Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Transport, said the move reinforced the position of the DVLA as one of Swansea's "flagship employers", while Swansea East Labour AM Mike Hedge said he was pleased at the news, and that he was a believer in investing in the public sector.
Meanwhile Swansea East Labour MP Sian James said she has "very mixed feelings" over the changes, welcoming the new jobs in the city but expressing regret that they would come at the expense of other public sector workers.
Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan described the DVLA decision as "tremendous for Swansea" — but one "tinged with sadness" at the closure of the regional offices.
And David Phillips, leader of Swansea Council, said: "This is great news for Swansea and is a vote of confidence, given the on-going concerns about the future of Unilever. These well-paid, skilled jobs will be a boost to the local economy."