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  1. ITV Report

Military bases to close in reservist shake up

38 bases will close across the country Photo: PA Images

Some 38 military reserve bases, including several in the North West, are to close across the country as part of reforms to expand the Army Reserve, the Defence Secretary has announced.

The departure of reserve forces from 35 Army bases and three Navy bases are offset by the establishment of nine new or reopened Army bases, two Navy bases and two Royal Air Force bases.

Philip Hammond unveiled the changes as part of a package of reforms aimed at increasing the number of reservists in the Army under the Future Force 2020 reforms. The plans envisage a trained army of 112,000, comprising 82,000 regulars, 30,000 reservists, and 8,000 further reservists in training.

Announcing the basing changes, Mr Hammond told MPs: "The number of Army Reserve bases will reduce from the current total of 334 to 308, a net reduction of 26 sites."

The Defence Secretary said "a significant number" of small and under-recruited bases would be retained, which the Army believes could be viable with strong recruiting. Some of the bases will not close outright but become home to other units, such as cadets.

Amid farcical scenes, MPs in the Commons chamber were not passed copies of the list until several minutes after Mr Hammond stopped speaking, developments that shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy blasted as "utterly incompetent".

The base cuts came amid wider announcements of new incentives for small and medium-sized businesses to support reservist employees, a £5,000 "signing-on bounty" for ex-regulars who sign up to the reserves, and upgraded holiday and pension entitlements to improve reservists' remuneration packages.

The 35 surplus army bases are: Armagh Territorial Army Centre (TAC), Ashington TAC, St John's Hill TAC, Battersea, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Eden Armoury - Bishop Auckland, Belleview Barracks - Bradford, Coltman House TAC, Burton-upon-Trent, Caernarfon TAC, Clapham TAC, Myrtle Street TAC, Crewe, Bothwell House TAC, Dunfermline, Dunoon TAC, McDonald Road TAC, Edinburgh, Stanney Lane TAC, Ellesmere Port, Carmunnock Road TAC, Glasgow, Newport TAC, Isle of Wight, Keighley TAC, Keith TAC, Kidderminster TAC, Kircaldy TAC, Townsend Avenue TAC, Liverpool, Arygll Road TAC, Llandudno, Ardwick Green TAC, Manchester, Stockton Green TAC, Middlesbrough, Northallerton TAC, Redhill TAC, London Road TAC, Romford, Seabrooke House TAC, Rugby, New Broad Street TAC, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swaffham TAC, Walsall TAC, Washington TAC, Wick TAC, Ubique Barracks, Widnes, and Duncombe Barracks, York.

The three surplus navy sites are: Dorset House, Bristol, Royal Marines Reserve Henley, Henley-on-Thames, HMS Sherwood, Nottingham.

The nine new or reopened army bases are: Kinnegar Barracks, Belfast, Batley TAC, Bradford, Bristol, Redford Cavalry Barracks, Edinburgh, St George's Barracks, North Luffenham, Land Warfare Centre, Warminster, Rochester Row TAC, Westminster, Carver Barracks, Wimbush and Yeovil TAC.

The Navy will have new or reopened sites in Cardiff and Edinburgh, while the Royal Air Force will have new or reopened sites at RAF Woodvale and RAF Cranwell.

Outlining the wider changes for the Army Reserve, Mr Hammond said an additional £1.8 billion would be invested over 10 years.

And outlining improved benefits for reservists, he said: "We have decided to increase reservists' total remuneration in two ways: for the provision, for the first time, of a paid annual leave entitlement in respect of training days and through the accrual of pension entitlements under the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015, for time spent on training as well as when mobilised."

Mr Hammond said the Ministry of Defence would streamline the process for those leaving the regular forces and entering the reserves.

Mr Murphy said Labour backed many of the reforms to the Army Reserve.

He told MPs: "While we champion reserve forces, we recognise the need to modernise. However, there are concerns that rather than synchronise the role of the army with that of the reserves, today's announcement appears belated and there will be concern the reserves uplift is not designed to complement our army but to supplement lost capacity."