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Minister accused of 'crude tactics' over city job losses; I fight hard for Liverpool, claims Hughes.

Byline: DAVID BARTLETT

NORTH West Minister Beverley Hughes was last night accused of "classic but crude Whitehall tactics" when claiming hundreds of civil servant jobs had been created in Liverpool.

The minister wrote to the Daily Post claiming more than 1,650 jobs had been moved to Liverpool, but her department refused to say how many jobs had been lost.

The Daily Post estimates that, when current known job losses are taken into account, the Liverpool region will only have seen an additional 617 jobs.

Last night, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle said he could not accept that Mrs Hughes's department could not provide the figures.

He said: "This is a classic but crude Whitehall tactic.

"She knows as well as I do that the lost jobs must be offset against the new jobs for us to have an adequate picture of the situation, and frankly I can't accept that she cannot provide the figures." Liverpool Council leader Warren Bradley said the Labour gover nment had consistently failed to deliver on its promise to decentralise jobs from London.

The Government Office North West (GONW) said that, between April, 2004, and April, 2009, there were 1,667 civil servant jobs moved to the Liverpool region from the South.

However, during that period, 100job losses have been announced at the Land Registry in Birkenhead, and 350 jobs have been lost from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

And, according to the Public and Commercial Services Union, HM Revenue and Customs will see the loss of 600 jobs by 2011 across Merseyside.

Mrs Hughes wrote to the Daily Post in response to our revelations that GONW is set to slash its presence in Liverpool by moving more than 40 key jobs to Manchester.

In her letter, she said: "It's not true to say that the Gover nment is reducing its presence in Liverpool as your lead story (Mon, May 18) asserts.

"By contrast, Liverpool has been more successful than any other city in the country in attracting civil service posts out of London and the South East.

"More than 1,650 posts have already come to Liverpool from the South and more will arrive over the next few months." The MP for Stretford and

Urmston, in Greater Manchester, went on to write of her "excitement" at the prospect of creating a so-called "Whitehall of the North" in Manchester, where thousands of civil servants would be based.

When challenged, the GONW provided a break-down of the posts with the majority coming from the Home Office and DWP.

But, when asked to provide the numbers of jobs that had been lost to the region, the GONW said it could not provide them as they were held by individual departments.

Last night, Mrs Hughes issued another statement, which said: "As regional minister, I see it as my responsibility to stand up for Merseyside and the North West at every opportunity.

"I have tried to be meticulous about putting the case for each sub region equally.

"My letter to the Editor was an attempt to put into context a story and accompanying comment article which, in focusing on civil service job losses in Liverpool, left an incomplete picture of the city's track record.

"It is a pity that, at a time when, more than ever, it is in all our interests - across the North West - to work together, the article also raised divisions and rivalries between different parts of the region.

"As the figures from the Office of Gover nment Commerce show, the city has done spectacularly well in the drive to relocate civil service posts out of London and the South East.

"That fact needs to be recorded and had been completely overlooked in your original story." The Daily Post presented its estimates to the GONW, but the figures were not rebutted.

The GONW said that, in 2003, there were 60,530 civil servants working in the North West, which has increased by 7% to 64,850 i n 2008.

Mr Kilfoyle said: " I will be putting down a question next week when Parliament returns to find out the number of job losses.

"It's wholly unacceptable for not only a government minister, but the minister for the North West, who happens to have a constituency in which Manchester United is based, not to be able to tell us how many job loses there have been in the public sector in Merseyside.

Cllr Bradley said: "The Labour party promised to move jobs to the regions and they have not done this. I challenge the minister to come and be open and honest with us and give us the true facts." Frank McKenna, who is fronting a campaign for Liverpool to attract more civil service jobs - Think Big Liver pool - said: "There is an imbalance between Manchester and Liverpool at the moment and the minister should be trying to address that." OPINION: PAGE 8 'Jobs success' should be celebrated at either end of East Lancs Road IT'S not true to say that the Government is reducing its presence in Liverpool as your lead story (Mon, May 18) asserts.

By contrast, Liverpool has been more successful than any other city in the country in attracting civil service posts out of London and the South East.

More than 1,650 posts have already come to Liverpool from the South, and more will arrive over the next few months.

I'm delighted by Liverpool's success in attracting these posts to the region and am similarly excited by the prospect of a civil service campus being created on public land alongside Piccadilly station, in Manchester.

You are right to say, however, that Government Office for the North West is in the process of reducing the size of its operation - both in Manchester and Liverpool.

In Liverpool, one factor is the decision to transfer responsibility for European programmes - a big part of the office's work over the last few years - to the Northwest Development Agency.

But the commitment which has made the North West the biggest home of civil servants outside London and the South East remains.

There are more than 17,000 civil service jobs in Merseyside alone. Government Office for the North West will continue to play a major role in making the region an attractive option for departments and agencies looking to relocate.

And that's a cause for celebration for all of us - at whatever end of the East Lancs Road we happen to live.

Beverley Hughes, Regional Minister for the North West, MP for Stretford and Urmston

CAPTION(S):

More than 1,600 jobs have been created in Liverpool, says minister Beverley Hughes - but how many jobs have been lost? Her department isn't saying ... Cllr Peter Kilfoyle
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 28, 2009
Words:1117
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