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Union urges rethink as Banbridge Electoral Office closure confirmed ‘early 2019’

NIPSA says jobs and services to rural communities must be protected as four offices being axed

Union officials have called for a decision to axe four local electoral offices to be reserved.

All are due to close by May 2019.

The office in Banbridge – as well as Derry/Londonderry, Newtownabbey and Omagh – have all been earmarked for closure.

But NIPSA has urged a rethink, as it says jobs and services to rural communities should be protected.

At a meeting with the Chief Electoral Officer, Virginia McVea, it was confirmed that there are plans to close the electoral offices in Banbridge and Newtownabbey early in the New Year.

And the Omagh and Derry/Londonderry offices will follow shortly after the local council elections in May 2019.

All electoral services will be centralised into the Belfast Electoral Office.

NIPSA Headquarters official Dooley Harte, stated: “Management plans to close the regional electoral offices will have a serious and significant impact on service delivery to rural communities.

“We believe there will be a serious impact on the electoral register as the electorate is forced to go online or lose out.

“We have met with all political parties who oppose these plans but both the Chief Electoral Officer and the Northern Ireland Office have sought to close offices and reduce services to meet budget cuts with the Electoral Office having lost around a third of its budget in the last seven years.”

Mr Harte added: “NIPSA is meeting with its members affected by these new proposals that will close offices, cost jobs and see a new online service centralised in Belfast.

“We again call on our political representatives to oppose the closure of offices and seek the NIO to properly fund the Electoral Office to keep jobs and services in rural areas.”

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