DVLA set to close 39 offices
Plans have been unveiled to close 39 regional DVLA, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, offices, and centralise all the services at their Swansea headquarters. It is also thought that around 400 jobs will be relocated to the Welsh city. A consultation has already started amongst 1213 staff in the UK, including 77 in Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor.
Although the Government are saying that this will save around £28m a year, union leaders have said these plans are devastating. The DVLA, which keeps records of both drivers and vehicles, employs around 6,116 people in the UK. Around 5000 of these work at the long standing headquarters in Swansea and it is thought another 400 positions will be created there, including relocations.
10 of the 39 regional centres include enforcement centres, and these carry out a range of duties relating to insurance and tax offences, they will also be closing. Mike Penning, the Roads Minister, says that he expects these centres to be closed by the end of 2013, and h said that this is a major step to making the DVLA quicker and easier to deal with for both motorists and businesses.
He added that by centralising the services of the DVLA it was taking the crucial step towards making the majority of its services and transactions available online, allowing people to be able to deal with the DVLA at a time, and from a place, most suited to them. This is turn would mean a quicker turnaround to meet the growing needs of their customers.
The Public and Commercial Services union has said that is fears that, despite the consultations, the decision has already been made.It also warned that closing these regional centres would effectively eradicate the high quality, face to face services that the DVLA provided to both the public and the motor trade.
Mark Serwotka is the general secretary of the union, and he has said that the senior managers of the DVLA have always denied these plans in the past, so for them to announce them 2 weeks before Christmas was both devastating and insulting. Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, has in turn said that she was pleased that the headquarters in Swansea would become integral to the DVLA delivering their services throughout the UK.