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Future of army barracks under review

THE Invicta Park Barracks at Maidstone will be considered for closure, the Secretary of State for Defence has confirmed.

Minister John Reid has admitted that the site will be “kept under review for disposal in the longer term” under a Ministry of Defence cost-cutting review.

He said there were no short-term plans for the closure but added there was no definite time-scale for the review. The details came in a letter from Mr Reid to Maidstone and Weald MP Ann Widdecombe (Con), who has been involved in a campaign to prevent the closure of the barracks since she was elected.

Miss Widdecombe told the Kent Messenger in January that she believed the future of the barracks, home to the 36 Engineer Regiment, was again in doubt.

She claimed the Army’s long association with the county town could end by 2012, and wrote to Mr Reid in February asking for more clarity on the site’s future.

In his letter Mr Reid said: “I can confirm the Ministry of Defence has no plans to close Invicta Park Barracks in the short term.

“Nonetheless, I should tell you that the Army is committed to consolidating its estate into fewer but larger sites. As a result, a singleton site such as Invicta Park Barracks will be kept under review for possible disposal in the longer term.”

Miss Widdecombe said: “This clearly shows that the barracks are a candidate for closure. I take this to mean that there is a strong possibility it will close.

“Now is the time for us to campaign and put pressure on the Government.”

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