MORE than 40 jobs are at risk following a decision to close the valuation office agency (VOA) in Rhyl.

Rhyl VOA currently employs more 40 staff who deal with a wide range of queries from individuals and businesses on council tax and business rates issues. The office is an executive agency of HMRC, but is a separate organisation. The closure of Rhyl is part of the VOA’s own estate plans to 2023.

The government has now earmarked the office for closure during the 2019-20 financial year – a decision slammed by Chris Ruane, MP for Vale of Clwyd.

The VOA say they expect to work out of 26 locations by 2023, in order to provide “better working environments” with “high speed digital infrastructure”.

He said: “This decision will not only impact heavily on the staff involved, it will impact on businesses, individuals and Rhyl Town Centre, which benefits from having the staff nearby.

“The government seems intent on centralising departments and forcing people to access services online without any thought of the impact that will have on staff, rural communities, anyone who isn’t confident in using computers and those who simply would like to talk directly to someone for advice.

“Welsh Government is investing heavily in Rhyl in areas like housing, schools, sea defences, harbour etc while the Conservative UK Government has closed the Rhyl County courts, tax office and army recruitment centre.

“There needs to be a joined up co-ordinated approach to regeneration.

“This is a yet another ridiculous decision by a government which has lost any sense of direction and I will be looking to fight this with the staff all the way.”

A VOA spokesperson said: “Our estates programme is transforming the way we use our offices to support new and more efficient ways of working.

“It balances affordability, a range of working styles and geographic coverage. It will support our people adapt to a more flexible way of working, delivering our business in a more cost-effective and sustainable way.”

[Pic: GoogleMap]