HC Deb 21 March 1962 vol 656 cc363-4
3 and 4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) which local authorities he has approached concerning the use of the site of the former Royal Ordnance Factory, Swynnerton; and what meetings have so far been held; and (2) what length of time has now elapsed since the decision to close the Royal Ordnance Factory, Swynnerton; what schemes for the use of the site have been considered in that time; what area still remains for disposal; and what proposals he is now considering.

Mr. Profumo

I have approached the Staffordshire County Council, and a meeting with representatives of the county council, the Stone Urban and Rural District Councils, was held at Stafford last Friday, 16th March. It is now about five years since the decision was taken to close the factory. Industrial development, storage and afforestation have been uses proposed to me for the site; but the decision must rest with the statutory planning authorities. Seven hundred and sixteen acres out of 1,060 acres remain for disposal.

Mr. Swingler

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that a great deal of time has been wasted so far in considering various proposals for the use of a major portion of this site? Will he, therefore, go to work now with a real sense of urgency? Will he also bear in mind that for some time unemployment in north Staffordshire has been rather higher than the national average and it is vitally important that a portion of this site should be used to provide more diversity of industry?

Mr. Profumo

I recognise that it seems a long time, but I think the hon. Gentleman understands that, although the decision was taken to close the factory, it took another year before it was closed. Then we had to dispose of explosive materials, and so on. Therefore, it is not as bad as it might seem from the figures, but I give the hon. Gentleman the undertaking that I will continue to pursue this with the utmost vigour.