Labour concerns over plans to privatise defence sites
10:44am Tuesday 11th February 2014 in News
PLANS to privatise Ministry of Defence sites such as MOD St Athan have been called into question by Labour members.
During a visit of the St Athan MOD site shadow defence secretary Vernon Croaker and shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith discussed their doubts over proposals to privatise the management of UK military bases and barracks and to sell off prime defence property.
They called for full parliamentary scrutiny of the Ministry of Defence’s plan to privatise the entire military estate and pledged that under a Labour government there would be a full assessment of the impact on the community where there was a planned change to any Armed Forces site.
Mr Croaker also expressed concerns at rumours that outsourcing company Serco are in the running for the £400m contract while they are under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.
He said: "There will be scepticism and concern at these proposals, particularly here in Wales, which has already been hit hard by Armed Forces redundancies and the closure of Army bases and recruitment centres.
"The UK Government doesn't seem to have learned any lessons from its botched attempt to privatise defence procurement or the IT fiasco that meant that Armed Forces weren’t able to recruit.
"Labour is calling for full Parliamentary scrutiny of these proposals before the Government can proceed. We have concerns about Serco being awarded new Government contracts while under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
“We have also called for the Government to ensure that a proper community impact assessment is undertaken before proceeding with any closures of active military sites.”
Owen Smith added: "Wales has a proud history of contributing to our armed forces, with our three Welsh regiments recruiting thousands of men and women to protect British interests at home and abroad.
“Right across Wales there are army bases and barracks that have been part of our communities for decades. Not only are they places of work, but also the homes of armed forces personnel and their families. Now we know that the Tories want to privatise them or sell them off these communities deserve to know what the Government has planned and how their views will be heard.”