BY martin george
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Ministers have told an MP there are “no specific plans or threats” regarding the future of an army regiment’s base in a mid-Norfolk village.
The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing the future of its military bases, including the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, which is home to the Light Dragoons.
Parish council chairman Roger Atterwill said he was concerned by reports circulating locally that the regiment, known as England’s Northern Cavalry, could be moved to Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.
He said the barracks were a vital part of the local community, with nearly half of pupils at Swanton Morley Primary School having a parent in the regiment, and the village needed early notification of any proposals which could affect it.
He said: “It’s very important to the local economy. We need the barracks and it has a dramatic effect on the school, doctors’ facilities and pubs in the village and the wider community in Dereham.
“I would not like to see the base mothballed or not used.
“If the military doesn’t use it any more there’s still a large asset there that could be used.”
About 6,000 people watched the Dragoons receive the Freedom of Dereham at a welcome home parade in December following their third tour of Afghanistan.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “The Light Dragoons at Swanton Morley have become part of the mid-Norfolk community, and as Dereham demonstrated at the recent homecoming parade, we have taken this regiment very much to our hearts. I would be very concerned and disappointed if there was any suggestion of us losing this much-valued link. I understand the Ministry of Defence has to keep all decisions on regimental bases under review in light of the ongoing review of our armed forces’ capacity and deployment. I have spoken to ministers and am reassured that there are no specific plans or threats to the Light Dragoons at Swanton Morley, but I will continue to monitor the situation and be ready to make representations if and when required.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The Defence Infrastructure Organisation is in the final stages of producing a basing plan which aims to provide an affordable and sustainable infrastructure footprint of the right size and location to support military operations and house service personnel and their families.
“This will include the future use of Swanton Morley. We expect to make an announcement on this basing plan later this year.”