MOD ‘let­ting down’ ser­vice per­son­nel in Leuchars

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Gareth mcpher­son po­lit­i­cal edi­tor

An MP has hit out at the lack of in­vest­ment in Leuchars a year after the Min­istry of De­fence (MOD) promised it would be the cen­tre of Bri­tish Army op­er­a­tions in Scot­land.

Stephen Gethins said fam­i­lies are still liv­ing in un­healthy con­di­tions de­spite the vow it would be the army’s Scot­tish jewel in the crown.

Last Fe­bru­ary, then de­fence sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon said the bar­racks would be ex­panded as the cen­tre of the force’s op­er­a­tions north of the bor­der.

Mr Gethins, the SNP’S in­ter­na­tional af­fairs spokesman, has sought as­sur­ances from Sir Michael’s suc­ces­sor, Gavin Wil­liamson, the MOD is still com­mit­ted to up­grad­ing Leuchars.

“As you will be aware, your pre­de­ces­sor, Sir Michael Fal­lon, gave me as­sur­ances that in­vest­ment would come to Leuchars Sta­tion in prepa­ra­tion for it be­com­ing the main army base in Scot­land,” Mr Gethins wrote.

“How­ever, I con­tinue to be con­tacted by ser­vice per­son­nel about the poor stan­dard of ac­com­mo­da­tion there and se­ri­ous is­sues such as damp­ness, mould and in­fes­ta­tion.”

He added: “It is not ap­par­ent to me, or to them, that there has been any sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in their ac­com­mo­da­tion or in­deed com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties and I would be grate­ful for any as­sur­ances you can of­fer.”

The site was handed over to the army by the RAF in 2015 and is home to more than 800 mil­i­tary and civil­ian MOD staff.

It is hoped The Black Watch bat­tal­ion, also known as 3 Scots, will re­turn to their re­cruit­ing heart­lands in Leuchars when their Fort Ge­orge home near In­ver­ness closes in 2032.

A spokesman for the MOD said their plans to “con­cen­trate army ca­pa­bil­ity in Leuchars Sta­tion re­main the same” as laid out in the Better De­fence Es­tate strat­egy of 2016.

An ex­plicit com­mit­ment to make Leuchars the main army base in Scot­land was made by Sir Michael, a for­mer Perthshire school­boy, last year.

“We are one of the big­gest landown­ers in Scot­land, with an es­tate more than eight times the size of the City of Glas­gow,” the MOD spokesman said.

“The Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to hav­ing an en­dur­ing de­fence pres­ence in scot­land and we con­tinue to in­vest heav­ily in our es­tate.”

He added “con­sol­i­dat­ing the es­tate” in Leuchars al­lows them to “in­vest in sig­nif­i­cantly better fa­cil­i­ties”.

gm­cpher­son@the­courier.co.uk

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