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Getting ready for influx of soldiers
A SEMINAR was held at the new Tidworth Garrison Theatre on Monday to discuss the forthcoming changes to the military community in Wiltshire and the impact the influx of 4,000 soldiers and their families will have on the county.
Chaired by former Lord Lieutenant John Bush and with Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott and military commander Brigadier Piers Hankinson taking the lead, some 300 delegates from all over Wiltshire discussed the impact on the economy and communities and how it will be managed.
The garrisons of Tidworth, Bulford and Larkhill will take the soldiers and, by 2018, Wiltshire will be home to 28 per cent of the British Army.
Brig Hankinson stressed that the enlarged military community will attract some £500m in discretionary spending per annum in the county.
There is an MoD budget of £810m to build new married quarters and administrative buildings, but there is no money allocated for community services such as health and education.
The decision on what type of housing, MoDowned or leased from the private sector, and where they will be sited has yet to be announced.
Cllr Scott said “putting military families at the heart of the community” was the focus of the council but admitted it will have to lobby the Department of Health and Department of Education hard for additional funds to make sure that the infrastructure will be in place on time.
“The scale of the changes are enormous and may be daunting but we want to be open in what we are doing,” she said.
Alistair Cunningham, tassociate director of Wiltshire Council, introduced a wide range of speakers from across the business community in the county.
He praised the military for its input into the proposed Technical College in Salisbury and said that service leavers offered the business community a highly trained, skilled and motivated workforce.
Other speakers included Mat Roberts from Landmarc, which is based in Tilshead and manages Salisbury Plain on behalf of the MoD as well as operating a business hub in Netheravon for rural businesses.
Summing up, Mr Bush said there will be stresses on public services, but there will also be huge benefits to the community.
l AN exhibition about where the services personnel are going to live is being held at the libraries in Amesbury and Durrington.
The displays outline the Ministry of Defence’s ideas about where the troops will live in the Salisbury Plain Training Area before the consultation on formal plans takes place early next year.
The exhibition was unveiled at Wellington Academy, in Tidworth, last Wednesday and remain at the two libraries until tomorrow.
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