Hous­ing takes pri­or­ity over mil­i­tary jobs urges MSP

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Kaiya Mar­jorib­anks

A Green MSP is say­ing much-needed hous­ing should be put be­fore mil­i­tary jobs in a de­bate over the Min­istry of De­fence site at Forth­side.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell has ac­cused the Scot­tish Govern­ment of un­der­min­ing the re­gen­er­a­tion of Forth­side by in­ter­ven­ing in the with­drawal of Bab­cock In­ter­na­tional from the Mead­ow­field bar­racks.

Arms gi­ant Bab­cock want to shut the site in May, much ear­lier than planned, with the loss of be­tween 50 and 60 jobs.

It is Scot­land’s last re­main­ing de­pot for re­pair and main­te­nance of the Army’s land ve­hi­cles, and work done there would have to trans­fer to bases down south, in­clud­ing Cat­t­er­ick, York­shire.

Union Unite say closure would cre­ate a“lo­gis­tics night­mare”and leave Armed Forces based in Scot­land with a“man in a van”ser­vice for ve­hi­cle main­te­nance.

Bab­cock DSG, Stir­ling, was orig­i­nally ear­marked for closure in 2022 with the rest of the Min­istry of De­fence site in Stir­ling.

The land which cur­rently houses the mil­i­tary base has been iden­ti­fied for af­ford­able hous­ing in the Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plan, but the Scot­tish Govern­ment has said they are con­cerned at the with­drawal of Bab­cock and will‘of­fer what sup­port it can’to per­suade them to stay.

Mr Ruskell ques­tioned Keith Brown, the Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Econ­omy, Jobs and Fair Work, in the Holy­rood cham­ber last Thurs­day.

Mr Brown was re­spond­ing to ques­tions from Stir­ling MSP Bruce Craw­ford who is push­ing for the mil­i­tary site to be main­tained, safe­guard­ing its jobs.

Mr Ruskell said:“Over the last ten years we’ve seen a huge trans­for­ma­tion of Forth­side and much-needed hous­ing at the Mead­ow­forth bar­racks would be the last piece in the jig­saw of re­de­vel­op­ment.

“And that’s why the coun­cil zoned it this way in the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan.

“The MOD have been in the process of mov­ing out of this site for decades, and whilst I un­der­stand the con­cerns about re­de­ploy­ment of jobs, we must rec­og­nize that in Mead­ow­forth, we have a site that ticks all the boxes for re­gen­er­a­tion, meet­ing much of the need for high-qual­ity, high-den­sity mixed af­ford­able hous­ing, right in the heart of the city.

“As we have seen with Park of Keir, the Scot­tish Govern­ment is yet again in­ter­fer­ing in the de­liv­ery of our demo­crat­i­cally ap­proved lo­cal plan for Stir­ling, and it needs to re­con­sider its role in this is­sue.”

Mr Craw­ford, how­ever, said that as the con­stituency MSP it was his duty to do ev­ery­thing he could to pro­tect the jobs and liveli­hoods of those liv­ing and work­ing in the area and would there­fore be con­tin­u­ing to press the UK Govern­ment and the Min­istry of De­fence on the is­sue.

He added:“I have al­ways been to­tally op­posed to the closure of this MOD site and the an­nounce­ment by Bab­cock to bring the re­lo­ca­tion of the DSG op­er­a­tion for­ward to next year threat­ens the jobs that 56 highly skilled lo­cal peo­ple cur­rently have.

“If Mr Ruskell had vis­ited the site, he would know that the DSG op­er­a­tion leaves a rel­a­tively small foot­print and its con­tin­u­a­tion would still al­low for Stir­ling’s lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan to be im­ple­mented.”

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