Yesterday Defence Management reported that the outgoing second permanent under secretary of state for defence has ordered Package 1 of the £11bn training programme to move forward at the Welsh site despite resistance and doubts over the programme’s viability:
A leaked memo from a high ranking MoD official has revealed that the Defence Training Review (DTR)is set to carry forward at St Athan, Wales, despite the troubled economic climate, faulty business plan for raising revenue and widespread resistance from the affected MoD civilians employees and the union that represents them.
In a leaked memo seen by Defence Management, it has been revealed that Sir Ian Andrews, the outgoing second permanent under secretary of state for defence has ordered Package 1 of the £11bn training programme to move forward at the Welsh site despite resistance and doubts over the programme’s viability.
There has been resistance to Sir Ian’s final objective for sometime. RAF Cosford, which narrowly lost out to the St Athan facility, has been viewed as a more viable alternative because of its central location and the fact that it already has much of the infrastructure in place for training. Civilian trainers are widely resistant to moving to rural Wales to conduct the training. Furthermore, the financing of the DTR site has been rocked by the shaky economy. The Metrix led consortium had planned to fund the project through the sale of surplus MoD land but with the housing market hitting rock bottom, predicted revenues are now substantially less than first believed. Rising inflation has led to a ballooning of costs to £12bn.
The memo indicates that Sir Ian is willing to proceed with the St Athan site despite the above mentioned concerns. He wants to commit to Metrix and St Athan . Developing a contingency plan would show that the MoD has doubts the memo implied.
Recently some MoD officials admitted that the plan was unaffordable in its current state and that Metrix would have to submit a new business plan in order for the deal to move forward.
The contents of the memo were later revealed in an e-mail to staff at RAF Cosford in an e-mail. However the MoD failed to inform the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union which represents most of the affected civilian trainers.
Robert O’Harney, the Cosford branch secretary for the PCS said he was disappointed by the MoD’s willingness to leave the union out of the communications loop. He vowed that the union would continue fighting the DTR at St Athans because it was “unaffordable.”
The MoD strongly denied that any decision had been made. A spokesperson refused to comment on the leaked memo, but said: “A recent routine review has confirmed the Department’s commitment to delivering the DTR Package 1 Project and the Defence Technical Academy at St Athan.
“A final clarification exercise is now ongoing, after which Metrix’s revised proposals will be evaluated and considered for final approval.
“The MoD and Metrix are committed to an ongoing programme of consultation and communication with the local community.”
Armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth will make a statement to the Commons on 9 October regarding DTR SIr Ian said.
Why would this go ahead now! Would it be a desperate move by new labour to save the face of a Rhodri Morgan and John Smith AM ...even if they don't realise this is more an election liability.. than anything else....so they will shoot themselves in the foot...