Staff employed at Newry’s HM Revenue and Customs base at Carnbane have been told their jobs are safe until 2015. It is expected the customs management will carry out a further review in three years time but until then the 140 Newry based jobs will remain on site. The employees were informed of the decision last week after a fraught number of months of uncertainty. In September a spokesperson for the HMRC told the Newry Reporter that while a spending review is underway and offices may close. Custom House in Newry was not one of the offices under review despite fears by staff that the Newry office was pegged for closure. With 140 posts HMRC is one of the largest public sector employers in the city. The Carnbane based office is the construction industry processing centre for the UK. Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley welcomed the confirmation on the jobs after staff spent many months feeling their future was “in the balance”, particularly following the closure of the Merchant Quay enquiry centre. Meeting with the Treasury Minister David Gaulke with then party leader Margaret Ritchie MP last year, Mr Bradley said that the Newry jobs should not only be saved but increased, a claim he repeated following the news last week. “Newry is the location for processing of Construction Industry Returns but we believe it should also be the registration centre and that in order to provide improved customer service and accountability a telephone call centre should also be located on the Newry site,” Mr Bradley said. “This would create a one-stop-shop for all those people in the construction industry. We have seen public sector jobs haemorrhage out of this city over the last decade. This is a trend that has to stop and the retention of the tax office jobs will herald not only the start of that process but will also raise the profile of Newry as much more than a retail centre. We need a diverse economic base – that means fighting to protect that public sector jobs we have and fighting for more public sector jobs.
1st February 2012