Army barracks: ‘Heed voices from the home front’

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the Army’s apparent readiness to reverse its blanket closure of its city barracks will be warmly welcomed in west Edinburgh – and in the village of Kirknewton.

The abrupt withdrawal of 1,250 soldiers and support staff risked decimating shops and services around Colinton and Oxgangs, despite the promise that Army family accommodation will remain.

If, as now seems increasingly likely, the older Redford Barracks are spared the axe then the local impact will be significantly cushioned.

And, if that signals relief in West Edinburgh, then it will prompt dancing in the streets of Kirknewton.

The building of a “super-barracks” there threatened to swamp the village and that now looks much less likely.

The satisfaction felt in these communities is totally understandable given the massive impact of these changes on local life.

However, the emerging picture is not entirely rosy when seen from a city-wide perspective.

We still face the likely loss of Dreghorn Barracks and the nearby Craigiehall military headquarters.

That would mean more than half the Army’s presence in the Capital vanishing – and with it all the spending it brought to local shops, pubs, petrol stations, and so on, and so on.

That is the equivalent of Lothian Buses, for instance, laying off more than a third of its 2000 staff.

And this time there will be no super-barracks to take their place.

Questions must be asked about the planning which went into this Ministry of Defence review which appears to be unravelling after fewer than five months.

Doubts about Kirknewton’s suitability to support a large scale military presence, for instance, only seem to be emerging now.

This time let’s hope they get it right – and listen to the needs of the Edinburgh communities which have supported the Army for generations.