Wednesday November 9th 2016
During a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the MoD’s basing reforms, Veterans Minister Keith Brown said:
“Scotland’s defence footprint has been hollowed out through successive cuts so the severity of this fresh round of cuts comes as a shock. A reduction of the defence estate by almost a fifth is huge blow to Scotland.
“These brutal cuts spell the near total removal of the Army from large parts of Scotland and the end of the Royal Navy’s presence in Fife. It comes just three years after Philip Hammond announced the last Army Basing Plan, billed as offering stability and certainty. These recent commitments to Scotland have, for the most part, been disregarded.
“The First Minister wrote yesterday to the Prime Minister to express her firm opposition to these cuts and to seek clarity on personnel numbers, unit moves and any financial support that will be provided to communities affected by closures. She also expressed concern about the MoD’s failure to keep their promises to consult with the Scottish Government.
“I personally made every effort to meet MoD Ministers before decisions were made but they cancelled meetings on several occasions. No consultation took place, even in the case of Fort George where Scottish Ministers have a direct interest in operation of the site. This shows a total lack of respect for the Scottish Government’s legitimate interests in these decisions that have a clear impact on Scotland.
“The Scottish Government does not accept that Monday’s announcement is the end of the story and I will work closely with local authorities most directly affected to agree next steps.
“I am also keen to work with Parliamentarians from all parties as there is a clear interest throughout the chamber in retaining a strong defence footprint across Scotland.”
Andy Wightman MSP, Housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, urged Scottish Ministers to intervene in the proposed sell-off of defence sites including Glencorse Barracks in Midlothian, Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, and bases in Stirling.
In the past, unions have been critical of MoD land being sold on the cheap and without guarantees that developers would build affordable homes.
During today’s statement at Holyrood on the issue Mr Wightman urged Scottish Ministers to work with the MoD to transfer any affected land into local control to guarantee its use for community benefit.
Mr Wightman added:
“There is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to ensure that these sites end up in local council or community control. Redford and Glencorse are not due to close as barracks for many years to come, so transition planning for community use can start now.
“Scotland has a housing crisis so these sites could play a part in providing genuinely affordable homes. As well as affordable homes, these sites could provide community facilities and much-needed business units for small firms to help support the local economy.”Tweet Share on Facebook