THE battle to keep up to 400 civil servant jobs in Darlington has intensified after The Northern Echo launched a petition which has been backed by the town's MP Jenny Chapman.
Staff at the Department of Education (DfE) site in Mowden Hall face uncertainty after bosses announced the site would close, with workers forced to move across the North-East.
The announcement comes as the DfE looks to axe about 1,000 jobs nationally.
However, last night more than 150 people, union officials and Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, had backed the Echo’s Save Our Jobs campaign.
Mrs Chapman has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to keep the staff in Darlington.
The workers are being relocated due to Mowden Hall’s poor state of repair, with the DfE linked to a move to Newcastle.
A move to Lingfield Point or Northgate House, both in Darlington, has not been ruled out.
A decision is expected on Mowden Hall by March next year.
In an open letter to staff, Mrs Chapman said: “The news was a shock to everyone and this has the potential to be a disaster.
“We need to come up with a credible long-term option as making a noise will not be enough.
“Many people have given their working lives to serving children and families through Mowden Hall; they are settled in Darlington with children, community ties and have mortgages to pay.
“Daily travel to Newcastle is simply not an option and I promise I will fight tooth and nail to keep your jobs here.”
Robbie Faulds, the Public and Commercial Services Union’s education group spokesman, will meet staff tomorrow (Friday, November 16), and welcomed the Echo’s campaign.
He said: “The support is absolutely marvellous and the union is extremely grateful for the backing of The Northern Echo.
“It is vitally important we keep these jobs in Darlington because these cuts are disproportionate to other parts of the country.”
A DfE spokesman previously said the department was conducting a detailed review of its resources.
He said: “The Department for Education is committed to retaining an office in the North-East, where we have more than 400 skilled and experienced staff.”
You can join The Northern Echo’s fight to help keep jobs in Darlington, by signing an online petition at northernecho.co.uk/jobspetition