ABOUT 200 TV licensing jobs could be created in Darwen as Capita considers closing its Bristol operation.

The firm has entered a 90-day consultation period with about 350 staff at its office in the south west.

If the proposal, branded by union leaders as ‘callous’, goes ahead, the work currently done in Bristol will move to the India Mill office, with 150 jobs lost in the process.

A spokesperson for Capita said the firm needs to make savings to meet the demands of its new contract to deliver TV licensing services for the BBC.

She said: “As part of that we are proposing to optimise our current structure and relocate work from the existing Capita offices in Glasgow and Bristol to Darwen, Darlington and Birmingham.

“We are now beginning a 90-day consultation with about 350 staff in Bristol and, subject to the outcome of that, could create about 200 new roles in the Darwen office.

“These would be open, on an individual case basis, to existing staff from other Capita TV licensing offices who wish to transfer and to new employees, recruited locally.”

Bosses at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said they were upset at the move, but it was good news for Darwen.

CWU spokesman Alan West said: “They call it a proposal, but in reality it is planned. They say it is non-negotiable.

“It is good news for Darwen, but they are replacing people who have been doing the job for 40 years with Darwen people on minimum wage.

“They want to make a huge amount of savings.”

Andy Furey, CWU national official, said: “This is devastating news for workers in Bristol and a terrible way to start 2012. It’s a callous act by Capita management who have put commercial interests ahead of jobs and people.

“We will be working closely with our members over the coming weeks to see how jobs can be protected and what options are open to them.”

Staff at Capita’s TV licensing offices in Darwen and Bristol have held several strikes over the past year in an ongoing dispute over pensions.