A TRADE union branch leader says 200 Weymouth workers feel ‘very vulnerable’ as a result of government plans to privatise the Land Registry.
Andy Woodgate, Public and Commercial Services (PCS) branch chairman at Weymouth Land Registry, said staff at the service’s Melcombe Court building on the Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth fear for their jobs.
The UK government is reportedly considering the part-privatisation or sale of the service, which employs thousands of people in 14 regional centres across the country, including Weymouth.
Mr Woodgate said: “It’s a very anxious time and people are very concerned.
“Staff in Weymouth feel very vulnerable. We feel vulnerable because of geography, being on the south coast and not being very central. Whenever a private sector company is involved, they will want to have a say on which location it operates from.
“There are 200 people rattling around in a very big building in Weymouth and we used to have 600 people here.
“It’s a big building for 200 people. It’s that aspect that worries people.
“The staff view is not if the office will shut, it’s when.”
The PCS is urging people to submit their views on the privatisation plans before the consultation closes on March 20.
Michael Kavanagh, president of the union’s Land Registry group, said: “We are urging as many people and organisations as possible to tell the government the Land Registry must remain in the public sector.
“As well as defending people’s jobs in Weymouth we are determined to defend this vital public service from being sold off for profit because the consequences for the public and small local firms would be catastrophic.”
Mr Woodgate said the local economy would suffer a major blow if 200 jobs were lost from Weymouth.
He added: “There’s so much uncertainty and people do not know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.
“People would rather know so they can plan their lives.
“The hiatus caused by this has stopped people spending money on services in the area like home improvements.”
Members of the Weymouth Land Registry branch of the union are due to hold a meeting about their concerns with West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin – who has many constituents working for the service in Weymouth – and with South Dorset MP Richard Drax.
Mr Drax said he is aware of people’s concerns and has written to the Land Registry twice to ask permission to visit the Weymouth offices after access was denied twice.
He said he is hopeful a meeting will be arranged soon.
Views for the consultation should be submitted online at consultations.landregistry.gov.uk/consult.ti/LLC1/consultationHome
'No decision yet'
A SPOKESMAN from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said no decision will be taken on the future commercial model for the Land Registry, including ownership, until the consultation is completed and all responses have been considered.
He added: “It is impossible to fully understand the impact on staff until then.”