Echo Column: Office closure makes it clear levelling-up rhetoric is hollow.
Last week the Government announced that it would be taking away 945 jobs from Durham House in Washington, closing the site, and transitioning towards an office in Sunderland Wearview House.
In closing it, the Government has made it clear that its rhetoric on levelling up is utterly hollow; making big promises, but instead of backing up those promises with the support that people need, they have decided to cut quality public sector jobs in the middle of a devastating cost of living crisis.
Durham House is a local landmark and place of work. The decision to close its doors is utterly ill thought through.
The knock-on effect on Washington as a whole will be clear as day – a town where everyone knows someone who works at Durham House. Just think about the number of shops, pubs and food outlets that will suffer from 945 people no longer working in our town centre.
Over the last decade of Tory Governments, people have had to move far away just to find decent employment.
The spending power that leaves with them causes high streets to collapse, local institutions to decay, and transport networks to shut down.
The closures at Durham House will continue the same chain of destruction that the Tories have been wreaking over the last decade.
Staff at Durham House will now have to commute to Sunderland Wearview, using inadequate public transport, and if you are a working parent, you may have to reduce your hours to pick up your children: that loss of pay will have a serious impact during a cost-of-living crisis.
There are also serious concerns about the capacity of the Sunderland Wearview building to hold 945 more employees. As well as everyone already working in Wearview House, the site will now have to accommodate the members in Durham House, in addition to all the 390 members from Lighthouse View in Seaham.
Employees at Durham House are being abandoned by this Government, but as the MP for Washington and Sunderland West, I will fight for them.
To tell the Government to rethink its announcement, sign my petition here:
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