DVLA staff protest against proposals to close office
4:00pm Tuesday 14th February 2012
DVLA staff staged a Valentine’s Day protest against the proposals which would see their jobs cut and their office closed.
The 86 workers at the enforcement office in Station Road, Sidcup, could all be axed by the end of 2013 if government plans to centralise the service go ahead.
Secretary for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union’s DVLA south branch, Neeru Chaudhari said staff were ‘devastated’.
Transport minister Mike Penning unveiled plans in December to close 39 regional DVLA offices, including 10 enforcement offices which offer administrative services relating to the registration of vehicles, drivers and car tax and employ more than 1,200 people.
The government believes bringing all services into its headquarters in Swansea will give greater flexibility and choice to users with more of an online offering, as well as saving £28million a year. It will consult on the proposals until March 20.
DVLA chief executive Simon Tse said: "Times change and customers’ needs change.
"That is why it’s essential we move with the times and make the best use of our services and experience to make sure we give the motor industry and the general public a service that is fit for the 21st century, allows them to carry out their business in a way that suits them and offers the best value for money for the taxpayer."
At lunchtime, DVLA employees were supported by Greenwich and Bexley Trades Union Council in protesting and handing out leaflets outside the office in Station Road.
Mrs Chaudhari, 54, said: "The decision already appears to have been made.
"It is localism that the government is taking away from people."
The mum-of-two said the offices provide a ‘quality face-to-face service’ to the public.
She said: "They are the complex enquiries that cannot be dealt with by phone."
Mrs Chaudhari said the loss of 86 local jobs would have an impact on Sidcup’s economy.
A DVLA employee for 22 years, Mrs Chaudhari added: "It would completely devastate me.
"How am I going to get another job? There are no jobs - I have been looking."
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "We will not sit back and watch while jobs and highly-prized public services are stripped away.
"Our local economies are crying out for support and investment, not more cuts."
Have your say at dft.gov.uk/dvla/consultations or write to Consultation co-ordinator, Corporate Affairs Directorate, D16, DVLA, Swansea, SA6 7JL Sign the petition at savethedvla.co.uk