MP Raises Fears over Barracks in York
10:38am 20th July 2013
York Central MP, Hugh Bayley, has asked a number of Parliamentary Questions to Defence Ministers to seek confirmation about the impact of the Government’s proposals for the Reserve Forces on reservists and cadets based in York. He was concerned that the Defence Secretary did not write in advance to Members of Parliament whose constituencies will be affected by the proposals and asked that advanced notification will be provided about any further changes.
The Defence Minister, Philip Dunne MP, responded by saying that Duncombe Barracks currently houses 53 Military Intelligence Company and 5 Military Intelligence Battalion (with a force of around 40 reserves), as well as an Army Cadet Force detachment and a squadron of the Air Training Corps. He confirmed that 53 Military Intelligence Company will move to Leeds by May 2014, but that the long term future of Duncombe Barracks remains uncertain.
Mr. Bayley also asked what plans the Ministry of Defence has for the future use of facilities at Strensall for training medical personnel for the Reserve forces. Mr. Dunne said that there are no plans to change the way the Strensall facilities are used. Currently Headquarters 2nd Medical Brigade is based there, delivering multinational, joint and integrated Regular and Reserve Field Hospital collective training at its simulation centre, the Army Medical Services Training Centre, in order to provide Field Hospitals deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Bayley also asked what proposals there are for the merger of the Defence Vetting Agency, based at Imphal Barracks in York, with the vetting functions of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Defence Minister, Mark Francois MP, confirmed that an independent study is currently taking place and decision will follow from this. 180 people are currently employed by the Defence Vetting Agency in York, a considerably reduced workforce from when the Labour Government left office in 2010 when the York workforce totalled 310.
The issue of mental health services for current and former Reserve forces personnel is an issue of considerable concern in a garrison city like York. Mr. Bayley asked what proposals the Government has to improve these services. The Minister outlined the services available to Service personnel and veterans, including access to the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme in Chilwell and the funding of £2.5 million for mental health programmes from LIBOR fines.
Hugh Bayley MP says:
“In January last year, I asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young MP, why an oral statement about Defence job losses was not made in the House of Commons by the Defence Secretary so that MPs could question him about the implications of the decision. I requested that further statements on restructuring would be issued in good time so that MPs have an opportunity to ask questions about the situation in their own constituency. I was therefore concerned that advance notification was not provided to me about the future restructuring of the Reserve forces.
“York is an important garrison town. Whilst I am pleased that the future of the Army Medical Services Training Centre at Strensall appears to be secure, with the 53 Military Intelligence Company moving from Duncombe Barracks in York to Leeds next year, we need to know what the future holds for Duncombe Barracks. We also need confirmation as soon as possible that the Defence Vetting Agency will remain at Imphal Barracks; the jobs of many York people depend on it.”
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