Wrexham’s MP says a decision to move hundreds of tax office jobs away from the town is one of the worst he has seen in his 17 years in office.
Staff at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) Wrexham Technology Park site – which is home to a workforce of about 300 – face being relocated to either Liverpool or Cardiff as part of government plans to close the town’s office by 2021.
The cost-saving measure was announced by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in 2015.
It has been fiercely opposed by Labour MP Mr Lucas, who met local representatives from the PCS union on last week for an update on the campaign to keep the Wrexham office open.
Joining them was Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister Anneliese Dodds, who has been touring the UK this week to meet staff in locations where offices have been earmarked for closure.
Mr Lucas, who has served as MP for Wrexham since 2001, said: “This is simply one of the worst decisions I’ve ever known a Government to make as far as regional policy is concerned.
“We’ve got a developing economy in North East Wales and Wrexham is the biggest town in North Wales. We need to keep long-standing, skilled public sector jobs and investment in Wrexham – not take them away.
“I am pressing the UK Government as hard as I possibly can to reverse the decision, halt the process and make sure that these jobs are kept in Wrexham.”
Ms Dodds, who is conducting a review of the impact of HMRC cuts and office closures for the shadow treasury team, added: “We really need these jobs to stay in towns like Wrexham. They’re so important.
“They’re important for keeping expertise within HMRC, very important for the quality of tax collection services and more needed than ever if we end up with a new customs regime from the Government.
“Labour is saying we need to renegotiate the contract that’s leading to the closure of so many local offices just like the one in Wrexham. We need to see an end to this closure programme.”
Alan Runswick, who is on the PCS union’s group executive committee, welcomed the chance to meet Mr Lucas and Ms Dodds this week.
He said: “The PCS was delighted to have had Anneliese Dodds and Ian Lucas here to oppose the closure of Wrexham’s tax office.
“It’s completely bonkers to be closing offices in towns like Wrexham and moving jobs to bigger cities like Liverpool and Cardiff.
“The HMRC will be unable to deliver its services across North Wales from city centre offices so far away so we think that it’s really good the Labour Party is backing up our campaign to keep this office open.”
HMRC plan to close the Wrexham office by 2021.
Mr Lucas pointed out that the decision was made before the Brexit vote. He says customs issues will mean there is even more work for offices like the one in Wrexham to process once the UK leaves the European Union next year.
“To close the office in Wrexham in the current climate is completely crazy,” he added.