Council rejects calls for HMRC closure impact study

Jamie Hepburn MSP and Stuart McDonald MP
Jamie Hepburn MSP and Stuart McDonald MP

Two local politicians have asked North Lanarkshire Council to investigate the impact of losing one of Cumbernauld’s main employers.

Stuart McDonald MP and Jamie Hepburn MSP, who represent the Cumbernauld area at Westminster and Holyrood respectively, addressed an open letter to NLC calling for research into the potential effect of the closure of HMRC’s Cumbernauld office as part of a civil service shakeup, having initially proposed this in March.

Mr Hepburn added: “A similar assessment has already been carried out by West Lothian Council so there is absolutely no reason why NLC cannot support these plans.”

Mr McDonald said: “Frustratingly, despite numerous attempts to get some kind of response to our request for an impact assessment, months later we are yet to receive any meaningful response.”

Shirley Linton, Head of Enterprise and Place for North Lanarkshire Council, said: “The council recognises the impact of the proposed closure and has been working hard in recent months to discuss the situation with the current employer – in this case HMRC – to ensure appropriate support for employees is put in place. This means we can match employees with suitable alternative employment and provide advice to them if that is required.

“In addition, we will work with the marketing agents for the HMRC site to support opportunities for the site and any support for the wider town which is required.

“The council does not believe an economic assessment would be of benefit at this time.”

John Miller, a trade union official with PCS which represents many HMRC staff, commented: “PCS Cumbernauld Revenue and Customs Branch consider this as unacceptable. The local community can ill-afford the loss of approximately 1,300 jobs. Elected representatives of all parties have a duty to their constituents to ensure that the area they live in provides good, well-paid jobs. We will be contacting and meeting elected representatives to ensure this decision is reversed. We note that a similar process has occurred in West Lothian where an economic impact assessment was conducted and used as an example of retaining the Bathgate and Livingston sites.

“PCS Cumbernauld Revenue and Customs Branch have launched a petition specifically on this subject and will be calling on the wider community of Cumbernauld & Kilsyth to support our campaign to keep the local tax office open.”