End of an era as TA marches out of town

The TA Centre in Kirkcaldy
The TA Centre in Kirkcaldy

KIRKCALDY is set to lose its historic Territorial Army centre in Hunter Street as a result of the UK government’s restructuring.

The dramatic change was revealed last week as Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond announced the Ministry of Defence’s plans to restructure the country’s Army Reserve units.

Under the plans, Kirkcaldy’s artillery unit will be co-located at Montrose Road TA Centre in Arbroath, while the Platoon of D Coy, 7 SCOTS, will be relocated to Dundee.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, the Scottish Tranport Regiment headquarters in Dunfermline will have its two sites amalgamated.

Any Army Reserve units located in other areas of Fife will be unaffected.

The decision to close Kirkcaldy has been met with disappointment by town MSP David Torrance.

He told the Press: “This is hugely disappointing news for Kirkcaldy.

“The Kirkcaldy TA Centre has been a landmark for the town for years and has produced a great deal of impressive army reserve personnel.

“It serves to inspire and instil a sense of purpose in many young locals who sign up.

“This is particularly important when we consider that many young people are currently facing a bleak outlook for their future and we should be doing all we can to support and enthuse them.”

The Highland Battery, the unit of the Royal Artillery to which Kirkcaldy belongs is the only one remaining after 230 years.

Mr Torrance added: “Kirkcaldy is extremely proud of its army reserve facillities and its long history of service, and it will be a sad loss for the town.”

Last week Mr Hammond unveiled plans to recruit an extra 12,000 part-timers to strengthen the armed forces, with promises of new pension, healthcare and leave perks.

But the 35,000 fully trained reservists in future will be concentrated into 25 fewer bases, with 38 earmarked for closure, including Kirkcaldy, and 13 being opened at new locations.

The Territorial Army will be renamed the Army Reserve and numbers of recruits will rise from 20,000 to 30,000 by 2018.

The changes are expected to cost around £1.8 billion over the next decade.

Those civilians who are better paid face being frozen out of serving in frontline roles under the restructure as the Government has decided it will no longer make up the difference between army wages and their normal salaries.

The White Paper proposals which were shared in the House of Commons last Wednesday come nearly three years after the coalition government said it would reduce regular army numbers from 100.000 to 80,000.