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Town is likely to be chosen as logistics centre, says MP
BICESTER’S MP Sir Tony Baldry is “confident” the town will be chosen as the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) central logistic hub, saving hundreds of jobs.
The MoD is currently looking into privatising its supply chain, which includes Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution Centre, which is based in Graven Hill and employs about 600 people.
A Cherwell District Council report says two bidders are in a tendering process with the MoD over running its logistics function.
A decision could be made in August with contracts awarded by December.
The process could see the MoD move its operations to another area.
The MoD has permission to build a 70,400sq m warehouse at C-site, in Arncott, to consolidate Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution operations, but work has yet to start.
At a council executive meeting, Cherwell’s leader Barry Wood said the town faced competition from an MoD site in Telford.
He said he was involved in top-level meetings and was pushing for Bicester.
He said the geographical location of the town gave it the edge.
He said: “We want them to stay at Bicester and not move to all points north.”
Sir Tony, MP for North Oxfordshire, said: “Ministers are convinced that Bicester is the appropriate central location.
“But they have been trying to see whether the private sector would be willing to take up the running of that function.
“Not least because the warehouses and kit at Bicester need substantial investment to bring them up to the 21st century.
“They have to square it with trade unions and Treasury and Army chiefs.”
Unite union spokesman, Councillor Les Sibley, said: “We need a decision as soon as possible. It has been going on a long time and creates uncertainty for MoD workers.”
The MoD was unavailable for comment.
HISTORY OF THE SITE
- Graven Hill was previously farmland but was requisitioned by the MoD in the late 1930s.
- Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution Centre was built in 1941 to 1942 and became the largest military depot in the UK.
- It was operational for the D-Day landings supplying the Army as it advanced through Europe.
- These days it is a major storage and distribution depot.
- Under plans for the redevelopment of the site, Cherwell District Council is in the process of buying land at Graven Hill, to create the UK’s largest self-build estate.
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