This week, Rachael Maskell MP for York Central met with the Government Defence Minister over his decision to close Imphal Barracks by 2031. Following detailed discussions with the Armed Forces, families, the community, veterans, reserves and cadets, City of York Council, and the staff trade unions; the MP has written a detailed paper to highlight all the issues associated with the closure.
Despite MoD policy, no social economic impact assessment took place ahead of the announcement and Ms. Maskell asked that this was undertaken as a matter of urgency, so that there is a clear understanding of the consequences of the closure.
728 serving personnel and 365 civilian jobs are dependent on the Barracks but the impact on the wider economy is far reaching, if contractors are also taken into account.
At the meeting the MP also challenged the decision to close the Barracks itself, in the light of promises made to her predecessor under the 2013 Army Rebasing Programme, as late as 2015, that Imphal Barracks were here to stay. Other nations which have moved to a model of 'super barracks', have had to halt their rebasing programmes which similarly focus on consolidation.
Ms Maskell made the case that York - with its 1000 year armed forces history - played a major role in the lives of all armed services from supporting children in our excellent schools, providing spousal employment and the opportunity to live in a city which wholly embraced the Army. Ms Maskell also made a special plea for the Gurkha community in York who she will be meeting again with next week.
Rachael Maskell MP says:
"The Minister and I had a robust exchange, and I was pleased that he listened to the points that I made in our meeting. I will be following up the meeting in writing. I have also requested for greater evidence behind the decision to close Imphal Barracks and will continue to fight for York to maintain its Barracks."