Housing takes priority over military jobs urges MSP
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.”