MORE than 250 jobs are at risk at Gateshead’s De La Rue after the firm announced plans to end banknote printing operations at the site.

The move comes two years after the Gateshead site lost the contract to print the new UK passports, having printed them for 10 years.

The firm suffered a setback when the Government controversially assigned future printing of the new blue passports to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto - work that has since been outsourced to Poland.

Unite the union, which represents the workforce at the Gateshead factory is urging the company to reconsider the move and called on the Government to reshore passport production.

In its annual report De La Rue said: “In June 2020, we announced a consultation process to commence shortly on a proposal to cease banknote printing at our Gateshead site and we will start to engage in a collective consultation process with impacted employees.

“Under the proposal, the Company will retain some core services and roles at the site. Subject to the consultation process, we would expect the banknote printing operations to cease at Gateshead by the end of this calendar year.

“In addition, the UK Passport operations, also in Gateshead, will cease operations during H1 2020/21 as the contract transfers to a new supplier.”

Following the announcement, Blaydon MP Liz Twist MP said: "I am furious that De La Rue has once again let their brilliant workforce in Gateshead down.

"Since the loss of the British passport contract two years ago, senior management at De La Rue have promised their workforce in Gateshead more and more work, but in reality they have handed down more and more job cuts.

"These are good, skilled jobs, so this is another huge blow for our region, which already suffers the highest unemployment across the country.

"I have demanded a meeting with the chief executive and chairman of De La Rue and I will be speaking with Government Ministers and Gateshead Council, to try and prevent further local job losses. I will continue to work with Unite the Union to support their members as the consultation period begins."