The proposed closure of HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse in Gosport was discussed in Parliament on Tuesday during a Westminster Hall debate on the “A Better Defence Estate” strategy.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, member of the Public Accounts Committee, explained that she was dissatisfied that detailed and holistic economic cases have not yet been done for each of the sites identified. She used HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse as examples, reporting that the business cases for disposing of both sites remain unclear. She highlighted the Ofsted-rated excellent training at HMS Sultan as an important reason not to dispose of the site.
Ms Trevelyan’s comments come following a detailed submission to the Public Accounts Committee by Gosport MP, Caroline Dinenage. On 9 January 2017, Mrs Dinenage wrote to the Committee explaining her concerns about the decision regarding HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse. Mrs Dinenage highlighted that while she did agree there was potential for commercial investment in Fort Blockhouse to generate employment for the local community, this would only be realised if the waterside part of the site was part of the sale. She also explained the detriment to Gosport, the MoD and the Royal Navy that would result from the proposed disposal of the HMS Sultan.
Commenting, Caroline said:
“I'm so pleased my noisy campaigning is being heard across parliament and warmly welcome Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP’s comments, which shone a light on the risks associated with disposing of HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse. I appreciate the MOD’s need to streamline its massive defence estate. But in my view, a pragmatic, business-minded approach must drive disposal decisions to exact the best possible outcomes for the taxpayer, the MOD and the local community here in Gosport.”
The “Better Defence Estate” strategy was announced by the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, on 7 November 2016. It outlines plans to dispose of 91 military bases across the UK by 2032, representing a 30% reduction in the size of the defence estate. During the debate, MPs voiced a range of concerns about how the strategy was formulated and the implications for local areas.