§ Mr. Butler
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to rationalise army storage facilities following the defence costs study; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Soames
As part of Front Line First, proposals to rationalise army storage facilities were detailed in a consultation document issued on 19 August 1994. A total of 35 responses have been received from trade unions, local authorities and other interested parties; all have been subject to the most careful and detailed consideration. Understandable local concerns were expressed on the effect on employment and the local community. No significant new defence-related arguments have however emerged, nor have any new suggestions been made which694W might cause us to alter our original proposals, which flow from a reduction in the army's storage requirements.
I therefore have to announce that we shall now move to implement our plans to supply the army from a smaller number of larger, more efficiently utilised sites, supported by a new distribution network utilised sites, supported by a new distribution network utilising best practice from industry. I am confident these changes can be introduced without detriment to operational capability.
Our proposals will mean the closure of 13 army static logistic support and engineer support units. The ordnance support unit Liphook will close by 31 March 1995, and the following by 31 March 1996:
- Regional depot Hereford
- Regional depot Stirling
- Ordnance support unit Ashford
- Ordnance support unit Bicester
- Ordnance support unit Burscough
- Ordnance support unit Feltham
- Ordnance support unit Thetford
- Ordnance support unit Weyhill
- Supply depot Colchester
- 320 engineer park Thetford
- 322 engineer park Hessay York
- 324 engineer park Stirling
Army storage will in future, with some staff enhancements, be concentrated at the following depots:
- Base ordnance depot Donnington
- Base ordnance depot Bicester, including the Bicester sub-depot at Thatcham
- Ordnance stores depot, which forms part of the Longtown ammunition depot
- Training material park Warminster
- Training material park Sennybridge
In support, a number of units will be reduced and reorganised to become distribution outlets, by 31 March 1996. These are:
- Regional depot Catterick, including stores sub-depot Hessay
- Ordnance support unit Colchester
- Ordnance support unit Old Dalby
- Supply depot Aldershot
- Supply depot Bulford
In addition, 321 engineer park at Longmoor will re-role and become a detachment to central engineer park Long Marston.
We shall continue to consult staff and trade unions about the detailed implementation of these measures.