Rachael Maskell MP made the case in Parliament today to keep Imphal Barracks open. The MOD has a legal obligation to undertake a social and economic impact of any investment decisions, and has so far failed to carry one out for its proposed closure of 34% of the defence estate.
The MP for York Central, and former Shadow Defence Minister, made the case that the closure would have serious impact on the local economy, in a city in need of skilled jobs. In addition to the 728 serving personnel at Imphal Barracks and their families, over 500 civilian jobs are also based in York and would be lost with the closure. This would be devastating for the city.
Over the last three months, Ms. Maskell has met with the Senior Army Personnel and regular soldiers, the Government Minister, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, the Army Family Federation, the trade unions, Gurkhas and their families, veterans and the wider community.
In addition to the economic and social case for keeping Imphal Barracks open, there is a very clear military case. The Ministry of Defence are looking to base personnel in super-Barracks, however where this has been tried elsewhere, like in France, such a programme has been stopped in its tracks due to the detrimental impact on recruitment and retention, as morale falls, not just for soldiers, but in particular for their families.
‘York has such a proud history of having the Army located in York, one which the whole community embraces. In speaking in the debate in Parliament I highlighted the rich assets of York which can support armed forces families with jobs and education.
‘The Government must not underestimate the strength of feeling of the community to keep the Barracks open in the city, but must also examine the economic case. York is in need of skilled and fair paid jobs, and closure will have serious consequences for around 500 families working in the Barracks.
‘Having carried out comprehensive research into the decision making process, it is now very clear that closure is the wrong decision for the Army and its capability, the city and the community. I have called on the Minister to pause this programme so essential reviews can now be undertaken.’
Despite assurances given as little as 2 years ago to keep the Barracks on Fulford Road open, the Minister plans to close the Barracks in 2031.