Government has come under renewed criticism from an MP for allowing the HMRC regional hub to be in Leeds when cheaper premises were available in Bradford - as he demanded more cash for Shipley to ensure the local economy does not suffer.
Shipley MP Philip Davies criticised HMRC for failing to carry out economic impact assessments on individual areas where offices were closing as part of the national restructuring programme.
Speaking in Parliament he said in addition to extra money for Shipley transport improvements were needed to help staff get to the new centre.
Mr Davies said: “Given that cheaper premises were available just up the road in Bradford it is absolutely ridiculous that the Yorkshire hub is going to be in Leeds. Can I ask the minister given that HMRC have made no economic impact assessment of the effect on the places they are moving out of, will he go away and look at what financial support the Treasury can give out of its savings to Shipley to make sure that the local economy in Shipley is not damaged by the closure of the tax office there. And given there is so much congestion already from commuters trying to get into Leeds on the trains, can he tell us what investment he is going to make to make sure people can get from my constituency to Leeds on the trains which they cannot do at the moment already.”
He made the comments during a Treasury statement on the HMRC transformation programme which will see 170 offices nationwide closed and replaced with regional hubs.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride said: “The decision as to the Leeds office as opposed to Bradford has been rigorously looked at and hinged upon the eight principles. But as to his more general point about the economic impact, what we should celebrate is the economic success that we have had in having the highest level of employment, lowest level of unemployment since the mid 1970s and it is this government’s policies that is providing that.”
The regional centre will replace three sites across the district, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs offices in Victoria Street, Shipley, No 1 Interchange and Centenary Court, both in Bradford. Almost 2,000 jobs will be taken out of the area.
Speaking after the statement Mr Davies added: “I am aware of the country’s employment and unemployment levels what I want from the minister is some answers to how the Treasury is going to compensate Shipley and I will keep pushing for answers and money to ensure we are not disadvantaged.
“In one of the many meetings I have had over the closure I was told by HMRC’s directors of estates that they were in contact with Metro about transport links so it is clear this decision was wrong on so many levels. Infrastructure in the area is a problem and will get worse with more people having to travel. This is another issue that needs sorting.”