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Drive to find new employers to fill void left by RPA in Northallerton
A SENIOR councillor has called on employers to help fill the void which will be left by the loss of the 350 public sector jobs in a North Yorkshire town.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) confirmed on Monday that staff based at its offices in Northallerton are to be transferred to York or Newcastle.
Hambleton District Council, which has its headquarters in the town, is now calling on businesses and organisations to help find new tenants for the RPA building, Alverton Court.
Deputy leader, Councillor Peter Wilkinson said: "This represents a significant loss of regular income into the town, when businesses are working hard to come through a tough economic period.
"We would be happy to discuss with the landlord of the premises what can be done and equally pleased to receive any ideas or suggestions from businesses or other organisations.
"Nobody wants to see buildings left unoccupied and the district council will do what it can to bring it back into use."
The RPA is said to have pulled out of Northallerton because it could not negotiate a reduction in the lease with the private landlord.
Jobs have been guaranteed if staff move to York or Newcastle, but representatives for PCS, the Public Service Union, said the initial reaction from many workers is that they will leave.
A spokesman said: "It could be a knee jerk reaction - many people are still in limbo - but a lot of staff have said they want to go because they either can't or don't want to travel.
"Details of the exit strategy are still being sorted out, so a lot of people don't know how it will affect them.
"This is a major concern for Northallerton, it is a small rural community which relies on the public sector, and there are no comparable jobs out there."
Worried residents expressed their fears for the future of the town on the Northallerton Views website.
One warned: "It will be a ghost town shortly."
The RPA has said it will do its best to ensure a smooth transition for staff, and to continue providing the same level of service to customers.
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