Warning over increased travel costs for workers at Mowden Hall, Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: Mowden Hall, Darlington Mowden Hall, Darlington

WORKERS at a Government department which could moved from a North-East town may be forced to pay more than £660,000 in extra travel costs every year if their jobs are relocated, it is claimed.

About 480 civil servants posts at Mowden Hall, in Darlington, could see their roles transferred from the town in a Department for Education (DfE) cost-cutting review.

The DfE say Mowden Hall is too expensive to repair, but says it is committed to keeping the jobs in the North-East and has earmarked sites in Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

Workers say they will be unable to afford to leave Darlington, and have backed calls from union officials and the town's MP, Jenny Chapman, to retain their posts at Lingfield Point and Northgate House, in Darlington.

John Orchard, director of Marchday, which owns Lingfield Point, said any move out of Darlington would have a significant impact on workers and the environment.

He said: “Not all the workers would make the move and some may choose to leave, but the aim at the moment is not to displace people from their jobs.

“If all the staff that did stay were moved to Newcastle, and travelled there by car every day, that would mean combined journeys of four-and-a-half million miles every year.

“The cost of fuel would also be shocking with a 47-week year costing workers a combined £664,000.”

Mrs Chapman said: “When you look at the extortionate travel costs and the massive impact on the carbon footprint, it makes simple and sustainable common sense to keep these important jobs in Darlington.”

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, previously told The Northern Echo that Darlington was “still on the radar” as a venue to house DfE staff.

He said: “There are some brilliant civil servants working at Mowden Hall and their work is fantastic.

“We are sensitive that people put down roots and have families with children in local schools.

“For that reason, Darlington is still very much on the radar to house our staff.”

A Northern Echo-led petition against any move out of Darlington, attracted more than 1,100 signatures and will be presented to Mr Gove at Downing Street by The Northern Echo and Mrs Chapman.

Comments (20)

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11:05am Thu 14 Feb 13

Kinninvie says...

Mowden is completely residential apart from this place.
Get it shut down and moved somewhere more suitable therefore freeing the site for more desperately needed housing.
Mowden is completely residential apart from this place. Get it shut down and moved somewhere more suitable therefore freeing the site for more desperately needed housing. Kinninvie
  • Score: 1

11:49am Thu 14 Feb 13

stevegg says...

Ive always wonderd why the West end is excluively residential; the vast majority of social housing, and all supermarkets, shops, industry, commerce, business etc crammed into the East side of Darlington and Northern corridoor. As house prices can be double or more than those in the East it effectively eliminates normal working people living there unless your on a good wage thus segregating the population (the haves and have nots). One of the only commercial buildings in the West end is now on the verge of closing with talk of it moving to the East side of town. What is going on here???
Ive always wonderd why the West end is excluively residential; the vast majority of social housing, and all supermarkets, shops, industry, commerce, business etc crammed into the East side of Darlington and Northern corridoor. As house prices can be double or more than those in the East it effectively eliminates normal working people living there unless your on a good wage thus segregating the population (the haves and have nots). One of the only commercial buildings in the West end is now on the verge of closing with talk of it moving to the East side of town. What is going on here??? stevegg
  • Score: 1

12:42pm Thu 14 Feb 13

freelance says...

It would be interesting to know where the 480 employees reside------

e.g. % living in Darlington Town
% living in elsrwhere in
Darlington Borough
% living outside Darlington
Borough
It would be interesting to know where the 480 employees reside------ e.g. % living in Darlington Town % living in elsrwhere in Darlington Borough % living outside Darlington Borough freelance
  • Score: 2

3:44pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Spy Boy says...

stevegg wrote:
Ive always wonderd why the West end is excluively residential; the vast majority of social housing, and all supermarkets, shops, industry, commerce, business etc crammed into the East side of Darlington and Northern corridoor. As house prices can be double or more than those in the East it effectively eliminates normal working people living there unless your on a good wage thus segregating the population (the haves and have nots). One of the only commercial buildings in the West end is now on the verge of closing with talk of it moving to the East side of town. What is going on here???
Isn't it obvious ? Developer sees a site, talks to Tory chums and sees how to close building, knock it down, get land for coppers and build expensive West End housing on the spot. Blow the employees. Who cares about the little people. If the building goes, the jobs go too. No one is going to relocate them anywhere in Darlo. As for the travelling costs. If the work is moved more than 15Km the people don't have to move with it. They can just take their redundancy. How much more will this cost ? You can't force people to move away. Newcastle is too far. We need to keep these jobs.
[quote][p][bold]stevegg[/bold] wrote: Ive always wonderd why the West end is excluively residential; the vast majority of social housing, and all supermarkets, shops, industry, commerce, business etc crammed into the East side of Darlington and Northern corridoor. As house prices can be double or more than those in the East it effectively eliminates normal working people living there unless your on a good wage thus segregating the population (the haves and have nots). One of the only commercial buildings in the West end is now on the verge of closing with talk of it moving to the East side of town. What is going on here???[/p][/quote]Isn't it obvious ? Developer sees a site, talks to Tory chums and sees how to close building, knock it down, get land for coppers and build expensive West End housing on the spot. Blow the employees. Who cares about the little people. If the building goes, the jobs go too. No one is going to relocate them anywhere in Darlo. As for the travelling costs. If the work is moved more than 15Km the people don't have to move with it. They can just take their redundancy. How much more will this cost ? You can't force people to move away. Newcastle is too far. We need to keep these jobs. Spy Boy
  • Score: -1

4:27pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Homshaw1 says...

Spy Boy Why is it not possible to locate elsewhere in Darlington?

I wiould have though Lingfield Point was superb and not having to pay £660K in travel costs and holding onto trained skilled labour a real bonus
Spy Boy Why is it not possible to locate elsewhere in Darlington? I wiould have though Lingfield Point was superb and not having to pay £660K in travel costs and holding onto trained skilled labour a real bonus Homshaw1
  • Score: 4

5:13pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Taxpaying Homeowner says...

Lets concentrate on the real issue and not turn it into an envy thing like Stevegg

The reason Mowden Hall is closing is that it is no longer a viable office. No responsible organisation would not look to relocate for the sake of doing so. Lots of decisions are made including running costs, maintenance/repair costs and capacity. This site was built many years ago, the repair costs are too expensive to make it work as a Taxpayer funder Public Sector office.

Freelance makes a great point, what are the reporters figures based on??
It's worth pointing out that many people have long commutes to their workplace and office relocations do happen. The trave;l costs are not extortionate, they are standard costs that I guess have been extrapolated out on a figure assuming all current staff will transfer to Newcastle and travel from Darlington.

More sloppy reporting from an ever more left wing publication!!!
Lets concentrate on the real issue and not turn it into an envy thing like Stevegg The reason Mowden Hall is closing is that it is no longer a viable office. No responsible organisation would not look to relocate for the sake of doing so. Lots of decisions are made including running costs, maintenance/repair costs and capacity. This site was built many years ago, the repair costs are too expensive to make it work as a Taxpayer funder Public Sector office. Freelance makes a great point, what are the reporters figures based on?? It's worth pointing out that many people have long commutes to their workplace and office relocations do happen. The trave;l costs are not extortionate, they are standard costs that I guess have been extrapolated out on a figure assuming all current staff will transfer to Newcastle and travel from Darlington. More sloppy reporting from an ever more left wing publication!!! Taxpaying Homeowner
  • Score: 1

9:34am Fri 15 Feb 13

Darlington1 says...

Kinninvie guess you live on Mowden then andwant the staff gone for house prices. howver, yes more social affordable housing would be good so perhaps the council in co-op with the housing association could take the site over and build some cheap accomodation for those that can't afford the normal Westend prices.
Kinninvie guess you live on Mowden then andwant the staff gone for house prices. howver, yes more social affordable housing would be good so perhaps the council in co-op with the housing association could take the site over and build some cheap accomodation for those that can't afford the normal Westend prices. Darlington1
  • Score: 2

10:57am Fri 15 Feb 13

sarahd says...

This is off the subject of the story but just thought I'd respond to stevegg's comment.

I moved to the west end at the age of 27, working part time(in an office) and my husband working full time, both in 'normal' jobs with normal pay. I agree that some houses in the west end are out of reach of a lot of people but if you budget right (we don't smoke, have one car, rarely go out), 'normal' people can afford to live there too (in the lower end price bracket).
This is off the subject of the story but just thought I'd respond to stevegg's comment. I moved to the west end at the age of 27, working part time(in an office) and my husband working full time, both in 'normal' jobs with normal pay. I agree that some houses in the west end are out of reach of a lot of people but if you budget right (we don't smoke, have one car, rarely go out), 'normal' people can afford to live there too (in the lower end price bracket). sarahd
  • Score: 1

2:42pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Spy Boy says...

Homshaw1 wrote:
Spy Boy Why is it not possible to locate elsewhere in Darlington?

I wiould have though Lingfield Point was superb and not having to pay £660K in travel costs and holding onto trained skilled labour a real bonus
It's going to be expensive. Lingfield Point may be the answer, but I feel that if it's being relocated the D of E would rather move it away to Newcastle to existing premises. They won't be looking to incurr extra costs to move it from one Darlington site to another.

The building is not in good condition. That's mainly because of the design and the lack of maintenance work being done. It's one of those modern ( Once ) bui;dings that is expensive to run. Expensive to maintain. Even more expensive to update. Very expensive to replace. Who's bothered about losing expertise ? The D of E only think in terms of cutting costs. Skilled labour is a thing of the past. They'd rather pay peanuts to monkeys than decent wages to skilled and experienced people. That's why things keep going wrong in government these days. Too many vacuous pencil pushers with no experience or interest.

As for moving : Have employees actually looked at this ? Are they sure that it's not just a way of getting people on Final Salary pensions pushed out before their time and so saving the department millions in pension payments. They need to look long and hard at this. This happened to me and a lot of people I worked with. The company targeted all those on Final Salary Pensions to save them having to pay money into the pot. We lost many thousands of pounds in pension payments.

Bottom Line. Keep the jobs in Darlington. Ask to see the figures regarding moving the employees and check your pensions.
[quote][p][bold]Homshaw1[/bold] wrote: Spy Boy Why is it not possible to locate elsewhere in Darlington? I wiould have though Lingfield Point was superb and not having to pay £660K in travel costs and holding onto trained skilled labour a real bonus[/p][/quote]It's going to be expensive. Lingfield Point may be the answer, but I feel that if it's being relocated the D of E would rather move it away to Newcastle to existing premises. They won't be looking to incurr extra costs to move it from one Darlington site to another. The building is not in good condition. That's mainly because of the design and the lack of maintenance work being done. It's one of those modern ( Once ) bui;dings that is expensive to run. Expensive to maintain. Even more expensive to update. Very expensive to replace. Who's bothered about losing expertise ? The D of E only think in terms of cutting costs. Skilled labour is a thing of the past. They'd rather pay peanuts to monkeys than decent wages to skilled and experienced people. That's why things keep going wrong in government these days. Too many vacuous pencil pushers with no experience or interest. As for moving : Have employees actually looked at this ? Are they sure that it's not just a way of getting people on Final Salary pensions pushed out before their time and so saving the department millions in pension payments. They need to look long and hard at this. This happened to me and a lot of people I worked with. The company targeted all those on Final Salary Pensions to save them having to pay money into the pot. We lost many thousands of pounds in pension payments. Bottom Line. Keep the jobs in Darlington. Ask to see the figures regarding moving the employees and check your pensions. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

5:22pm Fri 15 Feb 13

hemmi1 says...

no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop
no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop hemmi1
  • Score: 1

4:30pm Sat 16 Feb 13

victorjames says...

hemmi1 wrote:
no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop
It's people like you, the children of Thatcher who have made this country what it is today. Sod you I'm alright. The "pampered" office workers are fellow citizens with all the worries that normal working people have.
[quote][p][bold]hemmi1[/bold] wrote: no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop[/p][/quote]It's people like you, the children of Thatcher who have made this country what it is today. Sod you I'm alright. The "pampered" office workers are fellow citizens with all the worries that normal working people have. victorjames
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Sat 16 Feb 13

hemmi1 says...

victorjames wrote:
hemmi1 wrote:
no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop
It's people like you, the children of Thatcher who have made this country what it is today. Sod you I'm alright. The "pampered" office workers are fellow citizens with all the worries that normal working people have.
well before thatcher mate
[quote][p][bold]victorjames[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]hemmi1[/bold] wrote: no one pays my travel costs to work. close mowden hall down build a much needed drug rehabilitation centre on the site and re employ the pampered office workers in the pound shop[/p][/quote]It's people like you, the children of Thatcher who have made this country what it is today. Sod you I'm alright. The "pampered" office workers are fellow citizens with all the worries that normal working people have.[/p][/quote]well before thatcher mate hemmi1
  • Score: -1

6:45pm Sat 16 Feb 13

behonest says...

There is no such thing as a need for a drug rehabilitation centre. There are other solutions for druggies. And if you allow too many of the working classes to live in the West End, then the West End will cease to be an area where decent, well-paid people choose to live, and they will just move out of town.

Regarding these civil servants; perhaps someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that any of them that have to move to, say Newcastle, will be re-imbursed the excess travel costs they incur by having to move, and this will continue to be paid to them for about 4 years? Also, I think the extra travelling time will be part of their working hours, not their own time. Quite right too.
There is no such thing as a need for a drug rehabilitation centre. There are other solutions for druggies. And if you allow too many of the working classes to live in the West End, then the West End will cease to be an area where decent, well-paid people choose to live, and they will just move out of town. Regarding these civil servants; perhaps someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that any of them that have to move to, say Newcastle, will be re-imbursed the excess travel costs they incur by having to move, and this will continue to be paid to them for about 4 years? Also, I think the extra travelling time will be part of their working hours, not their own time. Quite right too. behonest
  • Score: 1

6:05pm Sun 17 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

you're having a laugh behonest. no tax payer would put up with paying employees petrol for goodness sake. that will never be sanctioned, ever!
you're having a laugh behonest. no tax payer would put up with paying employees petrol for goodness sake. that will never be sanctioned, ever! greenfinger
  • Score: 1

9:15pm Sun 17 Feb 13

behonest says...

Well you might think that, greenfinger, but I suspect that their terms and conditions of service will allow them to claim excess travel costs if they are forced to move base against their will. Happy to be corrected though!
Well you might think that, greenfinger, but I suspect that their terms and conditions of service will allow them to claim excess travel costs if they are forced to move base against their will. Happy to be corrected though! behonest
  • Score: 1

9:50pm Sun 17 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

i'm pretty sure their terms and conditions wont have an address on it, i think it will be the employers name/department. i dont know but id be very surprised if a ordinary civil servant ever got petrol costs to their base employment. trips to london and the like yes, obviously. but changing from darlington to durham would not be deemed to be "excessive" imo. and rightly not either, i know 4 people who work there who are from spennymoor. they'd have a saving if it moved to durham.
i'm pretty sure their terms and conditions wont have an address on it, i think it will be the employers name/department. i dont know but id be very surprised if a ordinary civil servant ever got petrol costs to their base employment. trips to london and the like yes, obviously. but changing from darlington to durham would not be deemed to be "excessive" imo. and rightly not either, i know 4 people who work there who are from spennymoor. they'd have a saving if it moved to durham. greenfinger
  • Score: -1

11:26pm Sun 17 Feb 13

behonest says...

I don't think they do get travel costs to their base employment, when the base is the one at which they were initially employed. However, if that base changes and the change is forced upon them then I believe they can claim any additional travel costs that they will incur, for a limited time (3 or 4 years).

Yes, if it moves to Durham then any worker from Spenny will probably be chufffed.
I don't think they do get travel costs to their base employment, when the base is the one at which they were initially employed. However, if that base changes and the change is forced upon them then I believe they can claim any additional travel costs that they will incur, for a limited time (3 or 4 years). Yes, if it moves to Durham then any worker from Spenny will probably be chufffed. behonest
  • Score: 0

5:52pm Mon 18 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

if thats the case maybe it would be cheaper making them all redundant then. that seems the fairest thing all round.
if thats the case maybe it would be cheaper making them all redundant then. that seems the fairest thing all round. greenfinger
  • Score: 0

10:04am Tue 19 Feb 13

lechef says...

Thing is, if the employees choose to leave and take redundancy and sign on for JSA they will have to be prepared to travel up to 90 minutes each way as part of their jobseekers agreement anyway and believe me there is no well paid work for ex civil service in Darlington, so if you have to travel to Newcastle to keep your job ;travel. Newcastle is only 30 minutes by train.
Thing is, if the employees choose to leave and take redundancy and sign on for JSA they will have to be prepared to travel up to 90 minutes each way as part of their jobseekers agreement anyway and believe me there is no well paid work for ex civil service in Darlington, so if you have to travel to Newcastle to keep your job ;travel. Newcastle is only 30 minutes by train. lechef
  • Score: 0

5:15pm Tue 19 Feb 13

the-big-yin says...

freelance wrote:
It would be interesting to know where the 480 employees reside------

e.g. % living in Darlington Town
% living in elsrwhere in
Darlington Borough
% living outside Darlington
Borough
WOW...£664,000 IN TRAVEL COSTS
WORKS OUT AT AROUND £30 A WEEK FOR EACH WORKER...I PAY OVER £50 A WEEK AND ONLY EARN £228 A WEEK...
WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD...SURPRISED THEY DO NOT GET TRAVEL ALLOWANCE...
GET IT MOVED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE....I BET THE WHINGING WORKERS SOON STOP TWISTING ABOUT THE MOVE WHEN THEY HAVE TO TRAVEL 90 MINUTES EACH WAY IF THEY WERE LOOKING FOR A JOB ON THE DOLE...
[quote][p][bold]freelance[/bold] wrote: It would be interesting to know where the 480 employees reside------ e.g. % living in Darlington Town % living in elsrwhere in Darlington Borough % living outside Darlington Borough[/p][/quote]WOW...£664,000 IN TRAVEL COSTS WORKS OUT AT AROUND £30 A WEEK FOR EACH WORKER...I PAY OVER £50 A WEEK AND ONLY EARN £228 A WEEK... WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD...SURPRISED THEY DO NOT GET TRAVEL ALLOWANCE... GET IT MOVED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE....I BET THE WHINGING WORKERS SOON STOP TWISTING ABOUT THE MOVE WHEN THEY HAVE TO TRAVEL 90 MINUTES EACH WAY IF THEY WERE LOOKING FOR A JOB ON THE DOLE... the-big-yin
  • Score: 0

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