THE announcement that one of Darlington's major employers is to move part of its operation across town could spell good news for residents in the Mowden area.

Business services organisation Capita is moving its call centre operation at Mowden Hall to new premises at the town's Lingfield Point complex.

The move will see about 400 staff relocate to renovated office space at a former 50,000 sq ft warehouse on the McMullen Road site.

Capita will transfer its call centre, administration and distribution operations from the Government-owned building in August.

The news of the move was greeted with joy and relief by councillors, who have campaigned for years about the problem of office workers parking in the streets surrounding Mowden Hall.

Coun Bill Stenson said: "This is the best news I've heard for the last ten or 15 years. The residents are very pleased and I only hope it does ease the traffic problems, which have got worse and worse over the last ten years."

This was echoed by Coun Ron Lewis, who said: "Anything that means fewer cars clogging up the area has got to be good news and we welcome it."

A spokeswoman for Capita said it could lead to more jobs for the town. She said: "One of the reasons for moving is so the call centre side of the business can grow. There is scope to expand the facilities at Lingfield Point and that is the aim."

Phil Sewards, director of Capita's central government services, added: "The new centre at Lingfield Point will complement our two existing sites in the area, but will have the added benefit of providing room for expansion.

"Darlington is an attractive location for us because it offers a strong workforce with a varied skill base."

The move will not affect more than 250 Capita staff who administer the teachers' pension scheme at Mowden Hall.

The company announced last week that it had clinched a further seven-year contract worth £62m to administer the scheme for the Department of Education and Skills.

Nobody from the DfES was able to confirm what would happen to the office space vacated by Capita. However, it is believed that the department intends to bring in about 200 extra civil service staff.