27/04/2010

SDLP 'Not Planning' For Job Losses

There's been an angry reaction to news of expected job losses within the Planning Service.

After the news that the construction downturn has left the jobs in jeopardy was revealed at the weekend, SDLP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tommy Gallagher has reacted angrily to the news that cut backs may well leave more local people unemployed.

Around 300 members of staff at the Northern Ireland Civil Service are to be redeployed within the Department of Environment (DOE).

Some 269 of these jobs have been identified within the Planning Service and, according to a spokesperson for the DOE, the decision to move Planning Service staff was due to an £8m gap in funding blamed on the economic downturn.

The people in the posts are to be redeployed within the Northern Ireland Civil Service "wherever possible".

Mr Gallagher said: "This will have implications for planning service workers at both Enniskillen and Omagh.
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"At this time when the spectre of job losses and emigration hanging over the area is at unprecedented levels the last thing anybody here wants is the centralisation of government offices and the loss of more jobs.

"The relocation of planning staff to offices near the greater Belfast area is not an option for staff who have set-up their homes in this area.

"It would mean such staff being faced with unfair travel costs and unacceptable travel times," he continued.

"There are genuine worries that the proposed rationalisation of the Planning Service could result in the run-down and eventual closure of the local office in Enniskillen.

"I have no doubt that if this were to materialise then there would an angry backlash from the public," he concluded, yesterday.

On Friday, a Planning Service spokesman said: "The revenue generated by fees from planning applications goes directly into the Planning Service, but the number of applications has decreased dramatically since the downturn in the construction sector."

(BmcC/GK)

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