WORKERS at a Government department which could moved from a North-East town may be forced to pay more than £660,000 in extra travel costs every year if their jobs are relocated, it is claimed.

About 480 civil servants posts at Mowden Hall, in Darlington, could see their roles transferred from the town in a Department for Education (DfE) cost-cutting review.

The DfE say Mowden Hall is too expensive to repair, but says it is committed to keeping the jobs in the North-East and has earmarked sites in Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

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Workers say they will be unable to afford to leave Darlington, and have backed calls from union officials and the town's MP, Jenny Chapman, to retain their posts at Lingfield Point and Northgate House, in Darlington.

John Orchard, director of Marchday, which owns Lingfield Point, said any move out of Darlington would have a significant impact on workers and the environment.

He said: “Not all the workers would make the move and some may choose to leave, but the aim at the moment is not to displace people from their jobs.

“If all the staff that did stay were moved to Newcastle, and travelled there by car every day, that would mean combined journeys of four-and-a-half million miles every year.

“The cost of fuel would also be shocking with a 47-week year costing workers a combined £664,000.”

Mrs Chapman said: “When you look at the extortionate travel costs and the massive impact on the carbon footprint, it makes simple and sustainable common sense to keep these important jobs in Darlington.”

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, previously told The Northern Echo that Darlington was “still on the radar” as a venue to house DfE staff.

He said: “There are some brilliant civil servants working at Mowden Hall and their work is fantastic.

“We are sensitive that people put down roots and have families with children in local schools.

“For that reason, Darlington is still very much on the radar to house our staff.”

A Northern Echo-led petition against any move out of Darlington, attracted more than 1,100 signatures and will be presented to Mr Gove at Downing Street by The Northern Echo and Mrs Chapman.