A SCOTTISH town has been dealt a “huge blow” by the UK Government after its HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax office – formerly the largest in the UK – was closed for good.

The shutters were pulled down on the tax office in Cumbernauld yesterday after more than four decades, costing the town around 1300 jobs.

The SNP’s Stuart McDonald, the area’s MP, criticised the Tory government for ignoring the “overwhelming case” to keep the office open.

“The Tories talk of a so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda, but this decision shows it to be just empty rhetoric and they won’t stand by towns like Cumbernauld,” he said.

READ MORE: LIVE in Cumbernauld as HMRC office shuts down despite Better Together promises

“April 14 was an incredibly sad day for the current staff, some of whom have served diligently at HMRC Cumbernauld for decades.”

The closure has come as part of HMRC’s move away from its smaller offices towards a more centralised model. Around 170 sites across the UK are to be cut to just 14, exclusively in large cities.

The plan had initially only been for 13 sites, but an announcement in January saw u-turns on the decisions to close the offices in Portsmouth and East Kilbride.

While Portsmouth will become regional centre number 14, East Kilbride has been officially designated “phase two” of the Glasgow branch.

John Miller, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union branch chair, who has worked at the Cumbernauld site for more than four decades, said his office had been let down by a Labour minority administration in North Lanarkshire Council, which had done little more than “pay lip service” to try to save the site.

“They must have known what they were intending to do with allowing the planning permission for this site to go to housing,” he says.

The National: General View of HMRC Cumbernauld Tax Office 14/4/22.

The tax office campus on St Mungo’s Road is set to be demolished after permission in principle was granted to Cannon Capital Developments for around 160 new homes to be built on the site. Tom Johnston, an SNP councillor for Cumbernauld East, said they had to “embarrass” the Tory-supported Labour administration into “putting on a show” about trying to save the site.

He further pointed to the success of the SNP-run council in South Lanarkshire in saving the HMRC office in East Kilbride as an example of how things could be done better.

“We had to work to get Labour to even come to the table,” Miller added.

A spokesperson for his PCS union further told The National the UK Government was “taking vital, high-quality jobs away from Cumbernauld and causing massive damage to the local economy”.

They went on: “After years spent systematically closing their local offices, the Government has suddenly discovered ‘levelling up’, but their words will have a hollow ring.”

The National: L-R  Kevin McVey, John Miller, Willie Homer, Adam Smith, Agnes Valentine, Cllr Tom Johnston,  Cllr Catherine Johnston, Cllr Willie Goldie, Ann Ballinger, Stuart McDonald MP,  outside HMRC Cumbernauld Tax Office, 14/4/22.

The point had been echoed by McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. He added: “The closure of the tax office is a huge blow to Cumbernauld brought on by HMRC bosses and the UK Government.

“Local PCS union members are to be commended on their campaign to keep the office in Cumbernauld, and I’m proud to have supported and worked closely with them. We won the arguments, but Westminster just did not listen.

“So I bitterly regret that the overwhelming case for retaining Cumbernauld tax office has been ignored by the UK Government.

READ MORE: Do Unionists still think we are Better Together as HMRC Cumbernauld closes?

“And looking back to 2014, the idea that a ‘No’ vote was needed to save the tax office now really sticks in the craw.”

A HMRC spokesperson said: “Our skilled and experienced Cumbernauld accounts office colleagues have served HMRC with distinction and we are welcoming more than 1000 members of staff from Cumbernauld into our new Glasgow hub over the following weeks.

“The 1 Atlantic Square premises [two blocks from Glasgow Central station] will bring together about 3000 HMRC colleagues and initially 145 colleagues from other UK Government departments.

“It is a modern, inclusive building that facilitates collaboration, flexible working and will enable our staff to build varied careers and to continue to deliver great services to our customers.”