Education Minister says North-East town still on radar to keep 480 civil service posts (From The Northern Echo)
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Michael Gove says Department for Education jobs could stay in Darlington
A SENIOR Government minister has revealed 480 civil servant jobs could stay in a North-East town.
Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday told The Northern Echo that Darlington was “still on the radar” as a venue to house Department for Education (DfE) staff.
Employees at Mowden Hall, in Darlington, face being transferred 40 miles away to Newcastle due to the building's poor state of repair and Government financial cutbacks.
Workers say they cannot afford their jobs to be moved out of Darlington and last year staged a protest and sent Mr Gove a card urging him to keep their posts in the town.
Mr Gove was in the North-East yesterday to see Conyers School, in Yarm, receive academy status, and said the DfE were sensitive to the needs of people at Mowden Hall.
He said: “We want to keep a strong presence in the North-East and that could still be in Darlington.
“Mowden Hall as a building is not appropriate for the role the department is going to play in the future, but there are some brilliant civil servants working there.
“The quality of the work they do for people across the country is fantastic and we are sensitive to their needs.
“We are equally sensitive and aware that people put down roots and have families with children in local schools.
“For that reason Darlington is still very much on the radar as a place to house Department for Education staff.”
A petition led by The Northern Echo has attracted more than 1,100 signatures and will be presented to the Government.
Potential sites at Lingfield Point and Northgate House, both in Darlington, have been put forward by staff and union officials.
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman has championed the need to keep DfE jobs in Darlington in the House of Commons, saying any transfer of roles would cut £21m a year from the town's economy.
She said: “We need to keep the heat on the department because Mowden Hall has staff with great experience and expertise.
“Everyone understands the significance of Mowden Hall and the massive contribution it makes to Darlington's economy and staff will not be able to continue in their roles if they were transferred to Newcastle.”
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