Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Protest march over Sheffield business office closure

John McDonnell at rally in Sheffield
Image caption The shadow chancellor addressed the rally describing Sheffield as a "city in resistance" over austerity and job cuts

Thousands of people have marched through Sheffield in protest over plans to axe 250 government jobs in the city.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills announced in January its intention to close its office at St Paul's Place.

It said the plan would help it cut costs but unions, city leaders and MPs have attacked the proposals.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who joined the march, described the city as one in "resistance" to government cuts.

He added: "Too much has been said by this government about northern powerhouses and there has been too little delivery."

Protestors marched from Devonshire Green to City Hall in the event organised by the TUC and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

It comes as the future of thousands of jobs at Tata Steel's South Yorkshire plant remains uncertain.

Image caption Thousands marched towards City Hall in protest at the loss of government jobs

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said: "The business department's retreat from Sheffield not only puts 250 skilled jobs at risk, but threatens the economic revival of areas that have relied on the steel industry for generations.

"This is the exact opposite of what the government claims to want for the regions and the civil service, and makes a mockery of its northern powerhouse rhetoric."

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has said the decision to close the Sheffield site by January 2018 had not been taken lightly.

It said the closure was about modernising the way it worked and reducing operating costs but it has not said how much the Sheffield closure will save.

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