A COUNCIL leader has claimed there is a “phenomenal” case to keep up to 400 civil service posts in a North-East town.

Councillor Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said Department for Education (DfE) proposals to relocate staff 40 miles from Mowden Hall, in Darlington, to Newcastle, would deprive the town of highly skilled workers and stop it from attracting future investment.

The Government is looking to axe about 1,000 jobs across the country, and Mowden Hall has been identified for closure because of its poor state of repair.

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Coun Dixon said there was a strong argument to retain the jobs in Darlington, and backed a Northern Echo-led campaign to present a petition to Education Secretary Michael Gove at Downing Street.

A decision on workers’ futures is expected in March.

Coun Dixon will meet with the Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, Darlington Borough Council chief executive Ada Burns and two site managers from Mowden Hall at Darlington Town Hall on Friday, to start drawing up plans to relocate Dfe staff to other offices in the town at Lingfield Point and Northgate House.

He said: “We have a phenomenally good case for the jobs to stay in Darlington because this is a highly-skilled and highly-motivated workforce who are happy in this town.

“It would be an insane move if they were uprooted up to Newcastle.

“These cuts won’t just affect the workers, but future generations, and we have always had the hope that we can build on these quality jobs in Darlington.”

Coun Charles Johnson, chairman of South Durham Conservative Federation, said the group had also written to Mr Gove to express their concerns over any move from Darlington.

It said: “This facility has operated very successfully for 46 years in Darlington and to lose such a highly regarded facility would be a major blow to the town, especially at this very difficult time for the job market.

“We would urge you to take into consideration the good work of the staff both historically and present and to lose that expertise seems ill-advised.”

You can join The Northern Echo's fight to keep jobs in Darlington, by signing an online petition at northernecho.co.uk/jobspetition