WEARSIDE MPs are backing calls for Whitehall chiefs to justify plans to ship hundreds of civil service jobs out of town.
HM Revenue and Customs has unveiled plans to close Gilbridge House and Shackleton House in the centre of Sunderland and Weardale House next to Washington Galleries.
The proposal would see more than 300 staff from Sunderland and about 200 from Washington moved to Waterside House at Sunderland Enterprise Park, or Waterview House next to the wildfowl centre in Washington.
A handful of workers would be forced to relocate to the former Child Benefit Centre, in Longbenton, North Tyneside.
Members of the PCS Union claim the move would cost local businesses thousands of pounds a week and say civil service bosses have failed to provide evidence to prove the plan makes financial sense.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliot, whose constituency covers the city centre offices, and her Washington and Sunderland West colleague Sharon Hodgson, who covers the Washington site, turned out to show their support for the campaign.
“It makes no sense,” said Mrs Elliott.
“The Government has completely ignored the impact on the economy of moving so many people out of the city centre. They even suggested people would be able to come back into the centre, which shows how little the Government knows about communities such as Sunderland.”
Michael Dellow is Northumberland and Durham Branch Secretary of the PCS Union. He said the fact bosses had refused to show staff the figures on which the decision had been based led him to believe there was no real case in favour of the move.
“To me, if they had a real, solid argument, they would just have shown it to us and gone, ‘Here you are, now shut up’,” he said.
“We have proved the benefit to the community of having these offices here. What we have been asking is what criteria they have used and what actual figures is this decision based on.
“We have just been getting these generic, national figures.”