Part of Copthorne Barracks to be sold off as jobs move to Telford

Part of Shrewsbury’s historic Copthorne Barracks is to be sold off, with about 80 military and civilian jobs moving to Telford.

The headquarters of 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, based at the Copthorne Road barracks, will move to Donnington, home of 11 Signal Brigade during 2015.

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski today revealed he is to hold urgent talks with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond about the move.

He said: “I am deeply saddened by the announcement. Shrewsbury has a long history of hosting the army and I am very concerned as to what this will mean for the town.

“Philip Hammond has agreed to meet with me and the Leaders of Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council to discuss what would be an appropriate future use of the site to maximise local prosperity and jobs.

“I will also be seeking assurance from the Minister that there will be provision for TA reservists in Shrewsbury going forward.”

Ready to welcome extra soldiers – the entrance at MOD Donnington this afternoon
Ready to welcome extra soldiers – the entrance at MOD Donnington this afternoon

The future for the Territorial Army unit and other smaller units based at the barracks has not yet been decided, but Army chiefs have admitted they could also move out – potentially resulting in the full closure of the Copthorne base. Last year more than 130 military and civilian jobs were lost when the MoD closed its divisional Army HQ at the site.

The 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, which is responsible for the Army’s regional regiments, has been based at Copthorne in its current form since 1987. However, the regular Army’s presence in the town dates back to 1877.

Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler CBE, commander of 143 (West Midlands) Brigade,said: “It is sad news that 143 Brigade headquarters will be leaving Shrewsbury after such a long association with the town but the Army’s priority must be to focus its resources on its front line troops.

“As the Regular Army reduces in size it will need fewer headquarters. The Defence Infrastructure Organization will work closely with the local authorities to ensure that the future of Copthorne Barracks meets the needs of the local community.

“The provision for reservists in Shrewsbury is important to us and will be considered as part of the Army’s reserve basing study.

“Whatever the final decision, the Army will endeavour to continue to maintain its strong bonds with Shrewsbury.”

Councillor Peter Nutting, Shropshire councillor for Copthorne, said the announcement was the end of the town’s historic military presence.

He said: “It was a garrison town and this is the last of the real Army presence. It has been gradually disappearing and this is the end.”

However, the news has been  welcomed by the Telford borough’s two MPs Mark Pritchard and David Wright, who said it was crucial the base was supported.

Mr Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, said: “I am delighted that more rather than less defence personnel are coming to Donnington.

“This is good news for the Telford & Wrekin constituency.”

Telford MP Mr Wright said: “This is a movement of jobs within the county, but it is good news that we are seeing a consolidation of defence activity in Donnington.”

Donnington has been home to an Army base since the early 20th century, with housing being built in the 1930s for workers at the then new Donnington British Army Ordnance Depot.

It later became MOD Donnington, and was once one of the largest military stores in Europe, but it has declined in both importance and size since the end of the Cold War.

The move comes as part of a reorganisation amid plans to speed up the return of British troops from bases in Germany.

Mr Hammond said an extra £20 million would be spent to develop Army bases in the Midlands – with the money used to provide better accommodation for troops and their families.

He said: “By setting out our plans to bring troops back to the UK we are not only providing service personnel with greater stability for their future but also generating a saving of around £240m a year in operational running costs.

“We are also going to invest an additional £1.8 billion in our new basing plan, providing investment around the country, crucial jobs for local economies and the best possible accommodation for our soldiers and their families.

“This work helps ensure the British Army remains the most capable Army in its class.”

Post office, Dana, now barracks to go. What next? - Read more in today's Shropshire Star

Comments for: "Part of Copthorne Barracks to be sold off as jobs move to Telford"

matthew

Since the election the government has closed:

Shrewsbury county court

DVLA Shrewsbury office

Shrewsbury prison

Copthorne barracks

Royal Mail's Shrewsbury sorting office.

I don't think people were expecting special treatment for having a Conservative MP under a Conservative government but this is ridiculous.

Roger

We have a spare TA Centre at Sundorne which is actually larger than the TA Centre at Copthorne. Logically that should reopen and Copthorne can close entirely.

It is sad that Shrewsbury's long association with the Army has come to an end but I can understand why, when the Barracks is located in a prime housing area and represents a good opportunity for a high disposal price.

I can't see the site a suitable for generating jobs or industrial use so housing looks like the best option. It would be interesting to see if the existing buildings can be used in any application.

I will save my comments on the drift of employment from the town for tomorrow’s article.

Right Said Fred

No offence but cast your minds back a couple of years and this was on the agenda. This was always going to happen so it's no suprise really. Most of the barracks is empty and used to store office items and paperwork. It's a good idea to close it, and it will be good to rename any new facility that they move to as 'The New Copthorne Barracks' or 'The Shrewsbury Barracks'. At least then the history is kept going.

John

The closure of this historic Light Infantry Barracks and former Light Infantry Depot, is a tragic blow, to all ex serviceman that have fond memories of this great place. It is a barracks that is even still used annually, as the focal point, for The Light Infantry and The Rifles Annual Reunion, which itself, must generate tens of thousands of pounds each year for the local community, through the attendance of these former soldiers and their families over the long weekend in June each year, that they visit this historic town. It will be a loss to the town and a terrible loss to history. This closure, has even been declared by the Government, at the same time that former members of the Light Infantry, who were trained and based at this camp, are trying to raise funds for a Memorial to The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry and all of the Shropshire men that served in it .... Truly Sad!!....

Dan

As an ex member of the Light Infantry and a regular attendee of the annual reunion it will indeed be a sad loss to both Light Infantrymen and the local community. Hopefully any of the barracks that remains can still host this annual event. But somehow I think the government has already decided its demise.

Tom

Well said I attend the reunion every year.And last Year I met an old friend I hadn`t seen for 40 years

Robin Hood

For so long Shropshire Council has treated Telford & Wrekin Council as its inferior little brother - but look now at what is happening to Shrewsbury and then look at "the other side of the tracks" in Telford.

How many empty shops in Telford town centre? Not many. How many essential services has Telford & Wrekin Council axed - not many.

And now jobs are even relocating there. Shame on Shropshire Council for overseeing such a shambolic time for our town and county and congratulations to Telford & Wrekin for doing a better job for its residents. Vote out the Tories in Shropshire in May - they are doing a rubbish job for us.

TF7

Yes but, How many economic migrants do you have?

A light infantry man

I am sure if this camp was in London that there wood be a Preservation order on it this camp is over 100 years old so wiy no preservation order

SHAME ON YOU

mike perry

If the goverment had done some joined up thinking, the prison could have been kept open, and then transfered to Copthorne barracks a creating lots of jobs for county.

Denise

Leave our Heritage alone. More and more of our Town is being ruined in the name of Prosperity do we see any prosperity here for local People NO, If this Council had any sense it would be fighting to keep the Barracks and use it for the Army as it is meant to be. Bring it back as a Training Depot that would generate Jobs and Prosperity for our town. This Council is more interested in Tourisum than the People who live and work here. This was once a Beautiful Thriving Town now it is Complete Shambles. STOP Wasting our Money on Council Buildings and other rubbish we don't need here and START PUTTING THE REAL ISSUES RIGHT.

NAO

When the MoD claim that a number of Civil Service jobs will go then I doubt or have no faith in their honesty or accuracy. I was involved in the merger of 2 MoD headquarters a few years ago. The result of the merger was an extra agency staff member was employed and then replaced by a full time member of staff. Three people were then doing the work that 2 people had previously been doing. One of the three ended up sitting around doing nothing all day long. Management were so incompetent that they did nothing to prevent this from happening.

I have been waiting 8 months for Phillip Hammond to explain this and other issues to me. Perhap Daniel Kawczynski MP should ask Mr Hammond some very searching questions.