MSP calls for rethink of Edinburgh barracks closure

A FRESH call is being made to save Edinburgh's Redford barracks from closure as part of a 20 per cent cut in Scotland's military bases.
Calls have been made to save Edinburgh's Redford barracksCalls have been made to save Edinburgh's Redford barracks
Calls have been made to save Edinburgh's Redford barracks

The closure programme was announced 18 months ago by former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, who was forced to quit earlier this year over sexual harassment allegations.

Now Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald has written to his successor Gavin Williamson, urging him to think again about Redford’s future.

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He said a report by the National Audit Office had concluded the planned closures did not deliver guaranteed savings.

And he accused the UK Government of a “complete disregard” for the jobs and communities who depended on the base.

The closure of Redford and Craigiehall barracks in Edinburgh and Glencorse in Penicuik were announced in November 2016 when a total of 56 bases across the UK - eight in Scotland - were earmarked to shut. Redford’s closure is scheduled for 2022.

In his letter, Mr MacDonald said: “For the communities and service personnel affected this has been a devastating announcement, decided with little consultation in Scotland or consideration for the local communities and economies that will be affected.”

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And he asked him to clarify the MoD’s strategy for the proposed closure, how the government planned to support those affected and whether the economic and social impact, including job losses in the area, had been examined.

The barracks were built between 1909 and 1915 to accommodate 1000 men and at the time it was the largest military installation in Scotland since Fort George, near Inverness.

But it was included on an MoD closure list in 2011 announced by the then Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

His successor Philip Hammond reversed the plan - which also included building a brand new “super-barracks” at Kirknewton, West Lothian, two years later.

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Mr MacDonald now hopes for a similar U-turn from Mr Williamson.

He said: “The Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it – and that includes the massive cuts to Scotland’s defence footprint.

“It is little wonder a National Audit Office report concluded the Ministry of Defence did not have a plan for the funding and delivery of an ‘optimised estate’ when vital investment is being taken away from Scotland’s conventional while hundreds of billions of pounds is committed to Trident nuclear weapons.

“This shows a complete disregard for the jobs and communities in the south west of Edinburgh which depend on the bases.

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“I want the Defence Secretary to reverse his predecessor’s unjustified and poorly planned decision to slash Scotland’s defence estate by 20 per cent and end this damaging centralisation agenda that completely ignores the needs of Scotland.”

When the closure was announced, the MoD said savings would be used to provide better training facilities and more stability for military families.