A COUNCIL leader and an MP are urging people to sign a petition to stop hundreds of civil service posts being moved from a town.

Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon and the town’s MP, Jenny Chapman, will be encourage people to back the campaign tomorrow (Saturday, December 15) to save 480 Department for Education (DfE) posts being transferred from Mowden Hall, Darlington, to Newcastle.

Mowden Hall has been identified for closure in March due to its poor state of repair.

This week, Education Minister Liz Truss said there was a “persuasive case” to keep the jobs in Darlington, and said she recognised any relocation would have wider implications for Darlington’s economy.

Alternative sites at Lingfield Point and Northgate House have already been highlighted as potential areas to relocate staff in Darlington.

A final shortlist will be drawn up next month.

Mrs Chapman said a team of volunteers would be patrolling High Row from 10am, to meet passers-by and drive forward the campaign.

She said: “We have got off to a good start in our fight and have a good case, but we need to keep the heat on the department and carry on the cause.

“This is all about showing these jobs are a wider concern for the whole town, as well as the 480 staff members.

“Losing these jobs would have a major impact on Darlington’s economy, and could take away up to £21m a year from it because these people spend their money locally and have children in Darlington schools.

“We need to make the department aware of the importance these highly skilled workers have to Darlington.”

The DfE said Mowden Hall required significant re-investment at a time of severe cost-cutting, but revealed it wanted to keep an office in the North-East.

A Northern Echo-led petition, Save our Jobs, to keep the skilled jobs in Darlington has already attracted nearly 1,000 signatures and will be presented to Education Secretary, Michael Gove, at Downing Street.

To sign the petition, go to northernecho.co.uk/jobs petition