Barracks about to beat the retreat

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Staff reporter

MORE than 130 jobs are under threat at Shrewsbury’s Copthorne Barracks.

Defence secretary Liam Fox has announced proposals to disband the Army’s divisional headquarters around the country and replace them with a single support command in Aldershot in Hampshire.

This puts the HQ 5th Division at Copthorne Barracks in line for closure by August 2012.

It employs 73 civilians and 64 military personnel.

A spokesman at Copthorne Barracks confirmed the HQ 5th Division was under threat, but said the unions would now step in.

“In terms of job losses we can’t be certain as it will be subject to a formal trade union consultation which will now begin,” she said.

She added the barracks itself was safe as it contained 26 organisations in all, of which HQ 5th Division was only one.

Altogether the barracks currently employs 254 military staff, 153 MOD civil servants and 142 defence contractors.

The 5th Division helps with training, equipping deploying troops and covers Wales, the West and East Midlands and East England.

MP Daniel Kawczynski said he was very concerned over the announcement:
“The Secretary of State Dr Liam Fox wrote to tell he has endorsed the recommendations of Project Avanti,” he said. “The proposals would lead to the disbandment of headquarters 5th Division in Shrewsbury as a new single army support command unit is setup in Aldershot.”

He added he would be fighting to keep jobs.

“These are proposals only however and remain subject to consultation, further analysis and scrutiny before approval.

“It is during this period that I will be interacting with the Secretary of State and the Ministry of Defence in order to keep as many jobs as possible.

“I am delighted however that the barracks will stay there,” he added.

In another blow for Shropshire, job losses are also expected at RAF Cosford, home to the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering, as the proposals suggest RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire will become the centre defence training centre from 2013.

Bob Rollings, representing trade union PCS said the Ministry of Defence had asked for voluntary redundancies and received 15,000 applications nationally, but altogether wanted to shed 80,000 jobs.

“We’re not happy about anything going on at the Ministry of Defence at the moment,” he said. “These announcements are coming thick and fast.

“We were not consulted in the formulation of these proposals and we haven’t been told what the impact will be on places like the barracks at Shrewsbury. We don’t know what’s going to be left, but then I don’t think the MOD do either,” he added.

See full story in the Leader

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