EVESHAM TAX OFFICE MUST STAY OPEN
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There is no case to close the Evesham tax office according to Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff.

He has written to the Acting Chairman of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, Dave Hartnett, opposing the move in the strongest possible terms.

Commenting Peter said,

"The proposal is part of wider programme of office closures that would see all tax offices in rural areas of the Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire close. This is just another thoughtless centralisation that will bring no benefits to anyone and will remove another service from rural England and its market towns. And of course it is our post offices that will go next."

In his letter, Peter says

"At its simplest, you would achieve little or no cash savings to your organisation from closure but a sharply reduced quality of service to my constituents and considerable burdens on the staff employed in your organisation.

"I am extremely concerned about the proposals to maintain an enquiry service in the town but based from an unknown location. I am told that the current enquiry service can receive up to 2000 visits per month at the busiest time of the year. That enquiry service serves some of the most vulnerable people in my constituency – for example migrant agricultural workers who desperately need access to well-informed advice. The idea of a script-led, inexperienced staff, with no contact with more experienced colleagues, helping people who have real difficulties coping with English, never mind the increasing complexity of our tax system, worries me greatly.

"I understand that the closure of the Stratford-upon-Avon office is predicated on the assumption that people will be able to travel from there to the Redditch or Evesham offices - which you are planning to close. There seems to be an appalling lack of joined-up thinking in your organisation.

"I note that, under your plans, my part of the country will be served by offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Oxford and Worcester. It does not take a genius to work out that Worcester is very much the odd man out in this pattern of services and it must be on your list for closure irrespective of the development possibilities at the Whittington Road site.

"You are proposing to relocate the work done in Evesham to the Worcester offices on the Whittington Road but we all know that the inadequate buildings and the pressure for increased housing in South Worcestershire mean that the site is very likely to be redeveloped in the relatively near future. This means yet more disruption for taxpayer and staff member alike.

"Government is supposed to have a policy of moving jobs to the regions - but this should not mean just the big cities. If, as I strongly believe, the staff will subsequently have to move to Birmingham, then Worcestershire will have again lost important Government jobs. Already we have lost the Army Medal office in Droitwich from my constituency and much of the work done by DEFRA on Whittington Road. What will be left?

"The closure of the office in Bengeworth, a deprived part of Evesham, will also have a serious impact on the regeneration of an important part of my constituency. For the Government cavalierly to remove jobs from one of the more deprived wards in my constituency does smack of utter thoughtlessness."


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