EDINBURGH West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart today called for the army’s Craigiehall site to become an all-Scotland headquarters, as official figures revealed 103 civilian jobs face the axe if it closes.
Mr Crockart also urged the Ministry of Defence to pause its reorganisation plans and put a hold on its voluntary severance scheme to ensure it did not lose vital knowledge and experience.
In July, the then-defence secretary Liam Fox announced the current divisional HQ at Craigiehall would close along with Edinburgh’s Dreghorn and Redford barracks as part of the Strategic Defence Review, while a new “superbarracks” would be built at Kirknewton.
The plan provoked an outcry. Mr Crockart labelled the proposal “historical vandalism”.
Yesterday he met Scottish Secretary Michael Moore to put his case for a rethink.
He said Craigiehall could serve as the headquarters for the troops to be based at the new Kirknewton super-barracks, those being relocated to the current RAF base at Leuchars and the 51 (Scottish Brigade) currently based at Stirling.
Mr Crockart said: “I made the case for Craigiehall to be saved and become home to the headquarters for the brigade and two battalions which will be based in Scotland.
“A co‑located headquarters in Edinburgh would bring the efficiency savings which the government is looking for as well as high-level army personnel based close to the Scottish Government and key stakeholders.
“Craigiehall supports just over 100 civilian jobs, which will be lost if the MoD’s plan goes ahead.”
He said there was a vast pool of knowledge and experience amongst the staff at Craigiehall, which should not be lost.
He pointed out the site already had planning permission for a new headquarters building.
The army has had a continuous presence at Craigiehall since requisitioning the site in 1939. After the war it was to be returned to its official owners, who planned to turn the A-listed Craigiehall House, which dates back to 1699, into a hotel, but the MoD had other plans and in 1948 completed the purchase of the house and the lands.
Mr Crockart has tried to pin down the UK government on the costs of the reorganisation and how much it expects to receive from the sale of the three army sites in the Capital.
He said: “I have now asked over 80 parliamentary questions to try to understand the case put forward by Dr Fox in July, but the MoD is still unable to give me significant detail on any aspect of the proposal.
“I cannot see that there is a case, financial or otherwise, for the MoD’s plan, and I am therefore calling for the MoD to pause for thought both in the basing review and the process for voluntary early release.”