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Pledge to tax workers

PUBLISHED: 15:04 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 July 2010

TAX workers in Great Yarmouth, faced with losing their jobs, were given a timely boost from the borough's prospective Tory parliamentary candidate.

Brandon Lewis pledged to work to keep the town's HM Revenue and Custom's (HMRC) office open at Havenbridge House, saving 150 jobs, at a meeting with 15 beleaguered staff.

TAX workers in Great Yarmouth, faced with losing their jobs, were given a timely boost from the borough's prospective Tory parliamentary candidate.

Brandon Lewis pledged to work to keep the town's HM Revenue and Custom's (HMRC) office open at Havenbridge House, saving 150 jobs, at a meeting with 15 beleaguered staff.

The HMRC plans to close the Yarmouth office by April 2010, moving staff to Norwich as part of a centralisation strategy aimed at more efficient working by consolidating work in fewer locations.

Mr Lewis said there was cross-party support to keep the office open.

Added pressure will be exerted by Tory minister Philip Hammond, shadow secretary to the treasury, when he visits Yarmouth on Thursday to support the campaign and see the effects of the economic downturn on the town.

Following Friday's meeting, Mr Lewis said: “The best chance we have of keeping the HMRC office open in Yarmouth is to embarrass the government into changing their mind. We have got to keep a profile. They hope that eventually all the furore will quieten down. We need to make sure that we keep the pressure up. We need to put the case that this office needs to stay open.”

The meeting had been arranged by the workers' PCS union representative, Lee Sutton, to give Mr Lewis the chance to find out about the problems faced by the workers and their fears for the future.

He heard many of the employees would have difficulty with childcare if they were moved to Norwich as they would have to spend up to two hours a day travelling. Others feared for the impact on their customers as they would lose a personal, face-to-face service and would instead have to be put through to a call centre.

Many also questioned the government's logic in making the employees redundant when it had pledged to create more jobs during a time of economic downturn.

John Tann, 38, an administrative assistant, said he would have to move jobs to Norwich which would involve more time travelling from his home in Blackfriars Road, Yarmouth with the extra travelling costs involved.

Partner Sharon Johnstone, 37, who also works at the HMRC office, is expecting her second child but said she would have to find another job in the Yarmouth area so she could look after the children.

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