THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing fresh calls to confirm plans for RAF Leuchars’ transition to an army base.
Members of Fife’s new defence task force have demanded an end to the uncertainty amid fears Leuchars could lose out when troop numbers are slashed over the coming years.
Speaking after the first meeting of the Fife Defence Transition Task Force, group chair Councillor Peter Grant said there was growing anger and concern that the commitments given by former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox in July appeared to be inconsistent with more recent statements from UK ministers.
Councillor Grant said: “The promise of significant numbers of army jobs coming to Leuchars and Rosyth helped to soften the blow of losing the RAF from Leuchars, but these promises were based on the total strength of the army being 94,000 full-time regular soldiers.
“Now we’re being told this will reduce even further to 82,000.
“On the face of it the army won’t be big enough to fulfil all the promises about how many soldiers would be based at Leuchars, Rosyth and everywhere else in the UK.”
He went on: “This undermines public confidence in the whole process.
“It also makes it much more difficult for us to start planning for the provision of essential services during the transition period and after all the moves have taken place.
“Until we know how many soldiers are coming, how many of them will bring families with them, and when they’re all going to arrive, how do we know what the demand will be for housing, schools, health services and so on?
“At the request of the task force I’m writing to the Defence Secretary and the Armed Forces Minister and calling on them to end this uncertainty.”
Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett added: “As the councillor on the task force representing north east Fife, I’m pleased that we have had the first meeting.
“I would echo what Councillor Grant has said — we need certainty from the MoD regarding details of the number of army personnel coming to Leuchars, the type of units that will be coming and criticially when they will be coming.
“Until we have got that certainty, it will be difficult for us to plan a seamless departure for the RAF, hopefully with the army coming in right behind them.”
Two sub-groups of the task force have been set up, one to deal with the economic impact of the defence changes and another to prepare affected communities for their transitions.
Both groups will include representatives of Leuchars Community Council to make sure the views of local people are kept high on the agenda.
The task force will reconvene in three months’ time.