STAFF at a government office threatened with plans to move their posts out of the town have drawn up a battle plan to fight the proposals.

About 400 civil servants at the Department for Education (DfE) offices in Mowden Hall, Darlington, were told on Tuesday their positions could be transferred to Newcastle.

The DfE is looking to axe 1,000 jobs as part of a national cost-cutting drive, and Darlington staff are being moved out of Mowden Hall due to its poor state of repair.

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A final decision is expected in March, though moves to Lingfield Point and Northgate House, in Darlington, have not been ruled out.

Last night, about 500 people had backed The Northern Echo’s Save Darlington Jobs petition, which has also received strong backing from MP Jenny Chapman and borough councillors.

Staff at Mowden Hall today (November 16) met with union officials, and began drawing up detailed action plans to lobby the government and retain their posts in Darlington.

Robbie Faulds, from the Public and Commercial Services Union, said members were fully committed to staying in the town.

He said: “They are totally shell-shocked by everything that has gone on, but there is a real strength of feeling to fight and stay in Darlington.

“They feel galvanised and have responded in an excellent manner to what they’re facing.

“The case for moving out of Darlington has been made by the bean counters, but there is more to this than that.

“We made a conscious decision to set down all the issues raised and create detailed arguments about specific locations and extra travelling expenditure to give to the DfE.

“The wider Darlington economy is also a big factor too because there are examples of similar closures in other areas which have caused significant financial problems for businesses.

“We don’t want that to happen in Darlington.”

Bosses at Capita, who share Mowden Hall with the DfE, have denied they are looking to move from the premises.

A spokeswoman said: “We have no confirmed plans to move from the site but are reviewing all options available to us.

“Should we need to leave the premises, it will be to move to a building in the Darlington area.”

You can sign the Echo’s petition online at northernecho.co.uk/jobspetition