Moray Economic Partnership in pledge to champion Kinloss Barracks amid closure speculation
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MEMBERS of the Moray Economic Partnership have pledged to do all they can to safeguard Kinloss Barracks amid speculation over the base's future.
Senior representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as local community representatives, attended an extraordinary meeting of the MEP yesterday afternoon.
The partners described the discussions as "highly constructive".
Kinloss, home to 39 Engineer Regiment, employs around 1000 military and civilian personnel on site and in the local area.
The presence of the base is estimated to contribute more than £28 million annually to the local economy.
At the meeting the MEP and its partners stressed their commitment to safeguarding and developing the defence footprint in the region.
The partnership will continue to monitor the situation and, in liaison with government, work cross-party to champion the social and economic importance of the barracks.
More clarity is expected in the next month as part of the MoD’s wider "Defence in a Competitive Age" review.
MEP chair Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: "Moray’s strong and enduring connection with our military bases is a huge positive for the region as a whole and the defence establishments which have been based here for generations.
"Clearly the speculation about the future of Kinloss Barracks is unsettling for both the base personnel and the wider community, and it's important that we re-emphasise the strong bond and mutual benefit that exists ahead of any decisions on future defence infrastructure in the coming weeks, in order to safeguard around 1000 jobs and an economic impact worth more than £28 million.
"It is incumbent upon us, as community representatives, to express our support for the regiment and highlight the many positives that Moray provides to our military partners."
Moray's Conservative MP Douglas Ross said: "This meeting of the MEP reiterated the strong local support for Kinloss Barracks and the vital role they play in our community.
"Currently all the concerns are based on speculation, but I will continue to do all I can as the local MP to ensure Kinloss Barracks has a long and positive future in the area."
Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: "It is heartening to see community representatives standing together to highlight the case for retaining the Kinloss Barracks and the importance of the issue is demonstrated by the decision of the MEP to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the issue.
"I stand ready to support the community's efforts to safeguard the future of the barracks."
Pearl Hamilton, National Councillor Scotland, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "On behalf of Federation of Small Business and as a near neighbour to Kinloss Barracks, as a local business owner in Forres, we welcomed the Army service members and their dependents to Moray and continue to see the significant community and economic benefit.
"We are hopeful they will remain and may even add to the present contingent."