North Devon’s MP has called on the Defence Secretary to put an end to ‘uncertainty and rumours’ about the closure of RMB Chivenor.
Peter Heaton-Jones met with Gavin Williamson on Tuesday, handing over a letter which calls on the Secretary of State to reverse the decision to close the base by 2027.
Confusion has reigned since the announcement two years ago. During a visit to the base in 2017, then Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said ‘no final decision had been made’, and gave assurances the closure was under review. Earlier this year Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster told MPs there was still an intent to close Chivenor.
In his letter to Mr Williamson, Mr Heaton-Jones said the community needed a ‘firm commitment’ that Chivenor will remain open.
“More than two years later, there is still no final announcement,” said Mr Heaton-Jones.
“It means huge uncertainty for the local area, fuelled by rumours and counter-rumours. This has to stop. We need a firm commitment now that Chivenor will remain open.
“The base has been part of our community for more than 70 years. To lose it would not only hit everyone who lives and works there, but would seriously impact our local economy.
“And in these uncertain times, surely we shouldn’t be closing an important military and defence establishment.
“Please end the uncertainty and announce a reversal of this decision with the minimum possible delay.”
A follow up meeting is planned for the new year.
The Ministry of Defence review released in 2016 said it will save £3billion by 2040 by selling off 91 MoD sites across the UK.
The Better Defence Estate strategy said Chivenor would be consolidated in the Plymouth and Torpoint area, plus HM Naval Base Devonport and HMS Raleigh.
Chivenor is currently used by 24 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers and the Commando Logistics Regiment.
Commando Logistic Regiment Royal Marines were officially awarded the Freedom of Barnstaple in September, with the honour granted in recognition of ‘the historical connections of the Commando Logistic Regiment, RMB Chivenor and the special relationship between the Commando Logistic Regiment, Barnstaple Town Council and its community’.
The distinction gives all ranks of the regiment the freedom to march through the streets of Barnstaple on all ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing.