Town councillors launched a campaign to reopen a mobile Job Centre in Driffield days before the shock announcement that EYMS is to shut its bus depot on Middle Street South.
Driffield is home to 15 buses and 33 staff – 28 of them drivers – and the company says that jobs will be available at other depots for the vast majority of the staff if suitable travel or relocation arrangements can be made.
East Yorkshire Motor Services has had a presence in Driffield since the Company was formed in 1926. The current depot was built in 1958 to replace the former garage premises. The Hull-based bus company said it planned to axe the depot to reduce its overhead costs following significant cuts in the funding the company receives from the Government and councils.
Consultations with the Union and staff have started and, subject to the talks, the depot could close by June.
Driffield’s mayor, Coun Heather Venter, said: “It is indeed regrettable that the depot will be closed. However, due to current financial constraints, it is perhaps understandable.
“At the end of the day, we would rather see services maintained if choices have to be made.
“We do hope that job losses will be minimum, and on a purely practical level, I do hope that EYMS will not just leave us with another potential derelict and undeveloped site for the town to contend with.”
Meanwhile, the town council has passed a resolution to write to Driffield MP Sir Greg Knight and the three East Riding of Yorkshire Council ward members to seek their vigorous support in pressing for a mobile Job Centre to serve Driffield and the surrounding area.
At present, people from the Driffield area are forced to travel to Beverley if they need to attend a Job Centre.
Town Councillors feel this is “punishing” people who are already financially disadvantaged.
Coun Kevin Stack said: “Years ago, they decided to do away with our Job Centre and have a mobile Job Centre behind the library – then they did away with that.
“For people who need to go to the Job Centre or even sign on every fortnight it costs well over £7 in travel fees, which is a massive chunk out of someone’s benefit money.
“Now the Government has said that some people have to sign on every week so that is £14 out of their benefits.
“That £14 could pay towards their electric bill or food or any other important household bill.
“It is important that we get a job centre in Driffield – and the sooner the better.
Coun Stack said: People who live in and around Beverley are not penalised by this travel cost. This has gone on far too long.”
It was deputy mayor Coun David Credland who proposed the motion and he said: “In the past we did have a Job Centre but this was closed down. As a result, anyone from Driffield needing to visit a Job Centre has to travel to Beverley.
“A Driffield person visiting a Job Centre in Beverley cannot always claim reimbursement of their travel expenses.
He said the cost of travel could erode the benefit money available to a person and sorting out benefit claims over the phone was far from satisfactory.
“The Job Centre was taken away from Driffield but the need for it was not taken away,” said Coun Credland.
Coun Phil Stocker added: “I have been in the unfortunate position of being unemployed twice in my life. The first time there was a Job Centre in Driffield and so it was convenient to sign on.
“After the Job Centre closed, I had to go to Beverley and it was a problem. There was no compensation for having to travel that distance, it was only under certain circumstances where they would pay and it was hardly enough to cover the fare. I would certainly support this motion.”