Council could fight to save Portsmouth's last tax office from closure

COUNCILLORS and workers could join forces in a bid to save Portsmouth’s last remaining tax office from closure.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 5:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 10:22 pm
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and shadow treasury minister Anneliese Dodds visited HMRC workers in September 2018, pictured outside Lynx House in Cosham Picture: Sarah Standing (180724-5641)

At a meeting next week city council members will consider lobbying HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) chiefs to protect Lynx House in Cosham and its 1,000 staff members.

As part of a national programme HMRC offices around the country are due be closed and concentrated into regional hubs.

One Portsmouth tax office, Wingfield House was shut in 2015 with Lynx House scheduled to close by 2026.

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Both Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors are calling on their colleagues to fight for the office’s future, specifically asking that group leaders write to the HMRC chief executive and board, as well as the financial secretary to the treasury.

Labour Councillor Judith Smyth is supporting the motion. She said: ‘It’s very important local people have local access to these services and so many jobs will be lost as well. I know that this is something that is of concern to all of us.

‘This will make such a difference to people having to travel further.

‘We had hoped Portsmouth would be chosen as a place for one of the hubs. The existing staff here do such a good job.’

If Lynx House closes the nearest office will be in Croydon.

Dave Hansford, the chairman of the Portsmouth Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union branch in revenue and customs, has been campaigning against the closure. ‘There are no plans for tax offices along the south coast, which is unbelievable – all the way from Land’s End to Kent,’ he said.

‘The nearest office for Portsmouth will be Croydon, which would take people two hours to get to.

‘And it’s not just about the local customers, 900 to 1,000 people will lose their jobs. HMRC has said that everyone will be guaranteed a job somewhere else but that either means moving or commuting and that won’t be possible for a lot of people.

‘Any backing from the council is welcomed.’

The notice of motion on Lynx House will be discussed at full council on Tuesday, October 15.

Lynx House has been used as a tax office since 1994.