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ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE & ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
25th September, 1998
THE STRATEGIC DEFENCE REVIEW
Paper from M.C. Crocker, Chief Executive, Gosport Borough Council
1. That the Association maintains a watching brief on the Strategic Defence Review as issues and principles set out in the paper are clarified.
2. That where appropriate, the Association lends support to individual Authorities where decisions flowing from the review affect particular localities.
3. That the Association recognises and supports the work of Member Authorities, Economic Partnership, TEC's and Business Link in supporting defence dependent firms and encouraging diversification into other areas and presses for continuing support through the KONVER programme and suitable successor programmes to it.
1.1 In July this year, the Government published its Strategic Review of Defence in this Country, following a lengthy period of discussion and consultation. This report looks at the implications of the review for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, recognising that there will be a range of local issues and concerns which individual Authorities will wish to take forward in due course, as well as wider themes which the Association will wish to note at this stage.
2.0 The Nature of the Review
2.1 It must be emphasised that this is a strategic review described as aiming "to provide the Country with modern effective and affordable Armed Forces which meet today's challenges but are also flexible enough to adapt to change. It provides a vision for the modernisation of Britain's defence into the 21st Century. Its theme is 'Modern Forces for the Modern World'."
2.2 A review of this kind is no doubt appropriate and timely and does give a clear context in which future decision making can be set. Inevitably though, it is short on detail. With a few exceptions it will be difficult for individual Authorities to predict accurately how their particular area will be affected. There will be further stages of dialogue investigation and decision making over time which will reveal the hard issues to which particular localities and this Association will wish to react.
3.0 Defence Dependency in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
3.1 Both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight qualify for support through the European Union funded KONVER programme. This recognises that the area remains with the Top 10 most defence dependent regions in Europe.
3.2 Defence dependency is difficult to accurately define since it comes in different forms:
Service Personnel - These are the 'uniformed' members of the Armed Forces.
Civilian Personnel - These are all those non-uniformed personnel "on the payroll", working in a range of supporting capacities in service, support, research and training establishments.
Defence Industry - These are the industries whose output is solely, or to a large extent, dedicated to the military market.
Support Industries and Services - These supply the military with a vast array of goods and services in support of their role. In many cases the defence related work may only be a proportion of their total output.
3.3 The nature of defence dependency varies across this area. In Rushmoor, Gosport and Portsmouth there is a very significant level of service and directly employed civilian personnel. The Isle of Wight and parts of South Hampshire are also dominated by major manufacturers supplying equipment directly to the military. Elsewhere there are other significant concentrations of service and civilian personnel (Hart, Test Valley, East Hampshire) as well as major defence manufacturers and many smaller businesses and concerns.
3.4 Estimates of total defence dependency vary, but the table below is a crude estimate of the overall levels:
ESTIMATED DEFENCE DEPENDENCY IN HAMPSHIRE DISTRICTS (1992)
% of Workforce defence-dependent
% of Workforce defence-dependent
Isle of Wight
(Source: University of Portsmouth)
4.0 What does the Review say?
4.1 The Review notionally covers the period up to 2015. Appended to this report is a summary of its contents.
5.0 Implications of the Review
5.1 This section of the report has been, in part, compiled as a result of discussions with officers from Authorities with a major interest in the Review. Conclusions are generally broad brush given the nature of the exercise so far.
5.2 Area specific conclusions:
The Rushmoor area, together with the satellite areas in East Hampshire look set to remain the home of the British Army. Parachute Battalions may move from Aldershot to Colchester, but this is likely to be more than offset by returning units from Germany. It is clear that more detailed work is required and final conclusions will take some time given the implications for what is known as the 'barracks plot' but overall there is room for some optimism.
Andover and Chertsey. There may be implications for Army support facilities in these areas because the Review proposes a restructuring, bringing together all the expertise and resources needed for through life equipment management on the basis of multi-disciplinary groups. This work will take a further three to four months before clear conclusions are reached.
Portsmouth. The Review effectively confirms the long term role of the Harbour as the home base for a significant proportion of the Navy's fleet. The Review suggests enhancing the joint operations role with the Navy, working more closely with the Army and RAF. As a result, the three small aircraft carriers will be replaced with two larger ones, probably based at Portsmouth, accommodating planes and helicopters from all three Forces.
South East Hampshire generally. The Review is generally silent on other changes in the very significant Navy training presence in this area. It seems likely that there will be no further major contractions. The Tri-Service hospital at Haslar is not mentioned although separately it is known that its future is under review.
5.3 Other issues to be considered:
Options for Change. A number of Authorities are already dealing with changes and land releases as a result of previous changes flowing from former Defence Reviews. There appears to be no suggestion that any of these key decisions will be reversed, despite some speculation about some of the major land releases previously announced.
Training Grounds. A number of areas have large areas of training land, particularly the north eastern part of Hampshire. Although not made explicit in the Review, it appears that this will continue to be needed as the Forces return from Germany.
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). DERA has sites in Gosport, on Portsdown and at Farnborough. The Review underlines the Government's previous commitment to these establishments. It refers to the harnessing of Public/Private Partnerships to strengthen DERA's ability to provide 'world class' scientific research. In addition, greater two-way technology transfer between the military and civil sectors will be encouraged through the establishment of a Defence Diversification Agency with DERA. The organisation and location of this agency will be the subject of further announcements in due course.
Smart Procurement. By far, the biggest impact of the defence sector in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is the presence of a number of major defence suppliers and many much smaller enterprises supplying a huge array of high and low-tech goods, services and equipment to the sector. This dependency is referred to in Section 4 of this report. Partnering arrangements with a greater emphasis on prime contractors is a cause for concern amongst small to medium sized enterprises. In addition it should be noted that overall there is no increase in defence spending and therefore no boom for the sector over the next decade. Diversification into other areas is likely to be as important as winning defence contracts and will need to be encouraged and supported by the Local Authorities, the TEC and Business Link and the various economic partnerships working in this area.
Local Authority services in areas where service personnel are likely to increase, and possibly where a different kind of personnel are likely to be accommodated, perhaps more married soldiers and more families, there will potential implications for Education provision, Social Services and Housing Authorities which need to be monitored and accommodated.
6.1 There are obviously a range of local issues and concerns relating to the Defence presence in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Some of these are known and result from previous reviews and decisions. Others will emerge over the next few months and years as a result of this Review as the detail is clarified and decisions are made. At this stage it does appear that there is some cause for cautious optimism. The position in this part of the Country will, if anything, be underwritten and strengthened. However, there will be problems, issues and concerns which will need to be addressed. The Association needs to maintain a careful watch as things develop and, if necessary, support individual Member Authorities and particular localities if it is appropriate to do so.
6.2 A final point is that given our likely continuing defence dependency in this area, the Association should support Local Authorities and other Partnerships and Agencies in pressing for an appropriate successor for the KONVER programme when it comes to an end.
Chief Executive, Gosport Borough Council
Copy of Annex available on request
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