Observer comment: Job threat is a blow to economic revival

THE uncertainty over the future of the tax office at Ocean House is unsettling, both for the one hundred individuals whose jobs may be on the line and in terms of the implications for the economy of Hastings and St Leonards (see page one).

Job losses anywhere are unwelcome, but particularly so in St Leonards, where having people employed locally, and using the local shops and cafes, is key to regeneration.

In light of the fact that job creation has long been a priority for Hastings and St Leonards, the loss of a major centre of employment would come as a serious blow.

Those who work at Ocean House feel the closure of the office may be a done deal as HMRC has stated that this particular site does not fit in with the long-term strategy. But any pressure MP Amber Rudd can put on the Government to keep the St Leonards centre open has to be a good thing.

She has stated that she will put forward the case for Hastings to be made a centre of excellence, retaining the skilled staff. However the launch of a programme of voluntary redundancies last week could be seen as the first step down a very slippery slope.