Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy


Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy

Feb 19 2009 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo

FEARS over “Olympics-style” spiralling costs at the £13bn Defence Technical
Academy have been raised by politicians in a furious row over the St Athan-based development.

Tensions between Labour and Plaid Cymru over the academy scheme have been simmering for several months.

But they have boiled over with the recent announcement that the planning application for the development will be submitted to the county council this spring.

Labour councillors have taken exception to a series of statement made by
Plaid politicians, including councillor Nic Hodges, a Vale councillor and leader of the Plaid group on Barry Town Council.

Labour Councillor and former RAF St Athan worker, Rob Curtis, said: “I’m sick and tired of hearing numerous Plaid Cymru politicians criticising and running down the golden opportunity of having the multi-billion-pound Defence Training Academy located in Wales.

“Numerous negative anti-academy comments were made by their president and former vice -president, Dafydd Iwan and Jill Evans MEP.

The latest attack has come from Barry Plaid Cymru Councillor Steffan Wiliam,
who appeared on a recent BBC report saying that well-paid positions would go to people from outside the Vale, with local people left to do ‘menial jobs’.

Mr Curtis reserved particular criticism for Coun Hodges.

He said: “Coun Hodges has already been quoted as saying the academy would be an ‘isolated gated village’ and also added that ‘nearby towns would see an
increase in squaddie rowdiness and drop-outs from the academy’.

“These are irresponsible and naive comments. The training academy will
provide vital jobs for the South Wales region for generations to come.”

The new armed forces tri-service centre is expected to create about 5,000 jobs when operational.

Mr Hodges responded: “Labour’s cheap histrionics do not wash with me.”

He added: “What I have said is that I am concerned by the lack of detailed
information coming out on this scheme.

“The £12bn scheme costs are already starting to overrun and I am concerned it could spiral, just like the London Olympics.”

“I am also staggered to hear the continuing claims that sports facilities
will be open to local residents.

“This will be a hugely restricted security area and public access will be
largely unwelcome.

“Let’s have a proper debate based on detail and facts.”


Nb The South Wales Echo (Peter Collins in particular) is promoting the idea
of the Academy

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