18/10/2010

St Athan “gargantuan PFI” is to be reviewed and scaled down

Public Expenditure Review

We are encouraged to see no funds have been allocated for the privatised military training college at St Athan.  It signals that the “gargantuan PFI” is to be reviewed and scaled down, as the BBC revealed [1]
The people of Wales have been mislead about this project from the start when this project was first announced in Jan 2007 with exaggerated promises  of thousands of jobs - it was in reality a job reduction exercise and it is now clear that only a few hundred unskilled jobs could be available for local people.  In fact more job seekers would be coming to Wales than new jobs [below].    
The PR for Metrix – lead partners Sodexo with weapons dealers Raytheon and Qinetiq -  now claim their training would be more effective.  Yet they already lost out on the skilled training (Package 2) retained within the MoD.   Let’s have a fair review, compared with keeping all training within MoD – we are confident this will show better value, flexibility and effectiveness.
As with many PFIs, this one was rigged to favour privatisation over the public sector comparator.  Since that, the private sector price has leapt from £11 billion to £14 billion, mainly with financial/banking charges.  The  Commons Cttee report that over half the £10.5 bn for the FSTA (tanker aircraft) PFI will go to profit and banker fees, sets a big question over the cost claims.
The anti-Metrix campaigner sees the project not just as integration of training for British forces, but committing Wales and the UK for 30 years to a consortium in which international weapons suppliers are prominent partners. Such a massive military project on Welsh soil goes against the ethos of sustainable development and international citizenship, which the Welsh Assembly claims to espouse.
Max Wallis from Cynefin y Werin and Barry Friends of the Earth said “This overblown project is opposed by many local people and has blighted the St Athan area, as we argued at the public Inquiry.  [2] Advance payments from MoD and the Welsh Assembly of many £ millions have been a gravy train for private consultants, instead of funds going to upgrading MoD training facilities.”
Anne Greagsby Cynefin y Werin and Wales Green Party “We are jubilant that this shows we might halt the militarization of Wales and training military from unsavoury regimes here.”
Regarding any further development of aerospace business at St Athan, its viability has to be fully considered by the Welsh assembly government.  A fraction of the money squandered on this project would have breathed life into many more sustainable green jobs in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan.   
Contact Stephen V Thomas   02920 666645 stephenv.thomas@btinternet.com
Anne Greagsby  02920 756961 – 07817513610 – annegre@btinternet.com
Notes
The up-to-date St Athan Briefing with myth-busting facts attached or can be found here
[1] 22 Sep 2010 ... British Broadcasting Corporation BBC Home. Accessibility links ... will go ahead - but it won't be a gargantuan PFI," said the source. ...www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/.../2010/09/st_athan_the_doubts_grow.
 False claims about jobs for Wales   (references given in the Briefing)
At the Welsh Affairs Committee in July 2006, local AM and Welsh Minister, Jane Hutt spoke of “the creation of 5500 permanent jobs”, while Chris Bryant upped it to “maybe 6000”.  The MoD baseline numbers  in DTR1 are 2400 military staff, 1600 civilian staff, 6000 defence trainees (standing population) plus contractor personnel in catering, security etc.
·   At the Public Inquiry (Jan. 2010), Metrix gave 3000 total, of which 700 are military staff and 500 are non-project staff
·   The 1800 civilian jobs include 1200 managers, contractor personnel and trainer staff transferring to Metrix.  The jobs available for local job seekers are in cleaning, maintenance, transport and catering.
·   The Inquiry was told military trainee places have reduced from the 6000 to 2700, a figure that could be cut to about 2000 by the Defence Review.
·   The 2400 transfers to St Athan will bring in many job-seeking spouses and family members, estimated as 1200-1900.  These job-seekers far outnumber the few hundred (up-to 600) jobs provided.

[2]The verdict from the Public Inquiry was known at the end of March, but WAG is sitting on the results.  Local people and particularly Llanwit Major community Council are highly critical of this (contact Vale Cllr Gwyn John and community Cllr Bob Gant - see www.antimetrix.org/2010/09/.....).

Cynefin y Werin St Athan Anti-Metrix press release 18th Oct 2010

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