"NO ifs, no buts, no public service cuts" was the message chanted by dozens of people taking part in a rally to keep jobs in Bishop Auckland.

Supporters young and old turned out to back a campaign to stop the Department for Work and Pensions from closing Vinovium House and moving 83, mostly female, employees to other sites.

Gordon Mabon, Public and Commercial Services Union Durham branch chair, said in a speech that the staff had accumulated over 1,800 years of employment between them at the site on Sadler Street and spend an average of £10,000 per month in the town.

He added: "The closure is part of a programme of civil service cutbacks that should be seen for what it really is, a short term cost-cutting measure.

"It will have deep and profound negative effects on the 83 staff at Vinovium House, their families and the town centre itself."

MP Helen Goodman, who also took part in the rally, added: "The people who work in Vinovium House are part of public services in this country, good quality public services.

"They make sure payment goes to families who need it, their work is absolutely vital."

Mr Mabon added: "We have until March 31 at which point the consultation period ends.

"We will keep fighting, that's what this is now, a battle to keep jobs here."