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Braced for influx of service families
8:00am Sunday 10th March 2013 in Andover
NEWS that 4,000 soldiers and their families will be moving in to east Wiltshire was given a guarded welcome at Tidworth Town Council on Tuesday evening.
Over the next seven years Tidworth is expected to accommodate around 1,800 additional soldiers as a result of the changes.
The major increases in the town come about largely as a result of the news that Perham Down will have an extra battalion of engineers while the incoming Queen’s Royal Hussars will have a completely new barracks built at the end of the camp on land currently used as military playing fields. Other units are moving in and out.
While the potential for additional business was recognised the problem of housing, the influx and the long-term impact of the changes was a cause for concern.
Tidworth town mayor Chris Franklin, himself a former soldier, said: “The point I have tried to ram home is that Tidworth is a town with a garrison and not a town within a garrison.
“But we will not get more businesses to come to Tidworth until we get more chimney pots in Tidworth.”
But councillor Fred Galvin said the only ones doing well currently in the military dominated town are barbers and takeaways.
Deputy mayor Mark Connolly, who also represents Tidworth at County Hall, was worried about the long-term pledge given by the county council and Army to create a more balanced community being eroded as more military homes are built.
“Is the North East Quadrant going to be used by the military?” If so then more land will need to be released for civilian homes to maintain the desired balance.
Councillor Maria Hamblin, said: “I hope the housing issue is going to be addressed otherwise it is going against everything this council has been trying to do for years.
“It isn’t just housing but schools and shops as well.”
Former district councillor Steve Miles, said: “Local people need housing – private rentals at the moment are extortionate.”
Currently the MoD has plans for an additional 322 new married quarters at Area 19 in Tidworth but will need many more than that so will have to house soldiers further afield, use some of the civilian allocation at the North East Quadrant or identify new housing sites in Tidworth.
Army spokesman Lt Col (Retd) Richard Carman, the deputy chief of staff, accepted there were already problems of accommodation which were expected to intensify as the two Welsh regiment merged, but resources are coming.
“We are struggling at the moment but there is a lot of government money going to be put into this to make it right,” he said.
When asked about the situation at Ludgershall he said that no final decision had been taken ‘but the indications are it will be kept open’.