O'Loan says HMRC cuts are'disappointing'

THE decision by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to withdraw operations from its Ballymena office by spring 2011 is "very disappointing", Ballymena Councillor Declan O'Loan has said.

His comments came at last Wednesday night’s monthly meeting of Ballymena Borough Council at which letters from HMRC clarifying the future of the local office and future service delivery plans for customers were presented to members.

The correspondence detailed that at the time of the January 13 announcement on the Ballymena HMRC office, 54 people were working in Kilpatrick House of whom there were plans for 17 to be redeployed or continue to provide face-to-face advice.

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The correspondence also stated: “The remaining 37 staff have been made surplus and are therefore eligible to be considered for voluntary redundancy on compulsory terms, which are currently the best terms available under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

“Surplus staff who do not wish to apply for an exit package will be given the opportunity, where vacancies exist and where appropriate, to move to another HMRC office outside of reasonable daily travel or to another government department”.

Responding, Mr O’Loan said: “It is a very sad and unfortunate situation for Ballymena and the individuals concerned”.

Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy said: “Although there is no further action Council can take to reverse this decision, Ballymena has been identified as a hub in Northern Ireland, meaning that public sector employment should be increasing in this area”.