BURTON’S Territorial Army base has been saved from closure after Government bosses completed a U-turn on a decision to axe the centre.
Bosses at the Hawkins Lane site had previously been told F Company of the 4th Mercian Regiment, which consists of about 50 soldiers, would be withdrawn from the centre and re-integrated elsewhere in 2016.
Now, the future of Coltman House has been secured and will continue the ‘vital links’ the town has with the Army.
The prospect of a U-turn emerged last year after defence minister Anna Soubry said in a letter to Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths that a final decision had not been made regarding the future of the site.
Julian Brazier, parliamentary under secretary (Ministry of Defence) in a letter, said: “Under the announced plans, the Army Reserve Centre, in Burton, was due to be vacated by 2016.
“The Army has since been reviewing the changes to make sure that they deliver optimal capability for the Army in 2020 and to maximise recruiting opportunities where we can.
“As a result, I am pleased to be able to formally tell you that the Burton centre will be retained.
“I am sure that this news will be welcomed by the community and I hope that the opportunity to retain a serve presence in Burton will be fully embraced.”
Another 34 army and three naval sites which are now surplus to requirements could be closed as part of the reshuffle. The move is part of an £1.8 billion process to restructure to Britain’s armed forces which will also see the Territorial Army renamed as the Army Reserve. Members serving in the reserve will receive more training and better equipment as part of the shake-up.
Mr Griffiths said: “It is absolutely fantastic news and a great boost for everyone in the town.
“The TA centre and the Coltman name are so important and it is wonderful that both will now continue to be associated with Burton for years to come. The loss of the centre would have hit both reserve levels and cadet numbers in the town – something that will now not happen. Retaining the site will also mean historic links with the Staffordshire and now Mercian regiment remaining intact – something that has great meaning to so many people in the area.”
By Rob Smyth (Burton Mail)