Defence secretary urged to save historic Penicuik barracks

Glencourse is facing closure. Picture Ian Georgeson

Glencourse is facing closure. Picture Ian Georgeson

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DEFENCE Secretary Sir Michael Fallon is being invited to visit Penicuik’s Glencorse barracks in a bid to persuade him to drop plans for its closure.

The Ministry of Defence announced in November that the base – a home to the army for 150 years – was among eight in Scotland which would shut within the next 15 years.

Now a community petition has been launched with cross-party support, calling for a change of heart and urging Sir Michael to visit Glencorse.

Midlothian SNP MP Owen Thompson said: “Glencorse Barracks is fit for purpose following its £60 million upgrade in 2005 when it was hailed by the Ministry of Defence as ‘bench-mark accommodation’.

“It therefore makes no financial sense to close Glencorse given that it is already at the standard required for a modern army base and needs no major works to continue to operate effectively and efficiently.

“We decided to invite Michael Fallon to come and see the facilities at Glencorse for himself and hopefully he will reconsider closing it. It’s not too late.

“The base is not planned to close until 2032.”

Senior Penicuik Labour councillor and former provost Adam Montgomery said there had been speculation in 2003 that the barracks could close, but instead they had been refurbished.

He said: “There will be barracks they are keeping this time which need a revamp. If you have a barracks that doesn’t need any refurbishment why would you close it?

“There’s also the shooting range in the Pentlands which soldiers come from all over to use.

“The barracks are on the doorstep and the soldiers are up there two or three times a week.”

Christine Graeme, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, pointed to the history of Glencorse, dating back to 1803, during the Napoleonic Wars, when it was first used to hold French prisoners of war.

She said: “The base is an integral part of the wider Penicuik community.

“Armed Forces personnel and their families are involved in all aspects of the town.

“The arguments backing up the retention of Glencorse are strong.”

And Kelly Parry, SNP councillor for Midlothian West, said: “There are growing valid concerns for the continuing maintenance of the barracks over the intervening years and a need for clarity over the timeline of the winding down period.

“The community also have concerns that the closure will damage both the local economy and the local communities’ historic links with the base.

“The MoD need to urgently give us answers.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com