I am deeply disappointed by today’s announcement of the proposed closure of RAF Halton by 2022. This would mean the end of close relationships that have existed for a century between the Royal Air Force and not only Halton Parish, but Aylesbury, Wendover and other local communities.
I completely understand the reasons why the Ministry of Defence is seeking to rationalise its estate, concentrate its activities into fewer bases and realise the value of surplus land. I can understand too that from an RAF point of view it makes sense to co-locate the training of RAF officers and other ranks in one place.
However, I find the business case for closing RAF Halton to be unconvincing. In particular, there will be a significant cost to providing new facilities at RAF Cranwell and the RAF has never in the past found a way in which to dispose of its significant liability in respect of Halton House. This is a Rothschild listed building which the Ministry of Defence has a legal duty to keep in good repair, but which was never designed as residential accommodation and would not convert at all easily to either a hotel or domestic housing.
I’ve already spoken to the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to make clear my concerns and to ask him to provide additional evidence to justify his decision. I’ve also pressed him for a commitment that if the closure does go ahead, the Ministry of Defence will do everything that it can to help civilian employees who may face redundancy to find alternative work.
I will of course make myself available to any constituents seeking advice or support in light of this announcement. You can get in touch via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, my website www.davidlidington.com or calling my team on 01296 482102 or 0207 219 3432.