Decision over future of Bicester Army barracks delayed

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Troops put on a ‘capability demonstration’ for the Princess Royal at St David’s Barracks during her visit in 2010

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Troops put on a ‘capability demonstration’ for the Princess Royal at St David’s Barracks during her visit in 2010

First published in Bicester by

A DECISION over the future of a Bicester Army barracks has been put back to the spring.

Last July the Ministry of Defence announced 23 Pioneer Regiment, of the Royal Logistic Corps, based at St David’s Barracks, would be disbanded by October 2015, as part of military cuts.

In October the first tranche of 70 soldiers were made redundant from the regiment and the MOD said more would follow.

The 600-strong regiment, which has been based in Bicester in some form since 1941, is the sole occupier of the barracks, at Graven Hill.

The base has no family quarters, but includes flats for single soldiers, a parade ground, offices and other regimental buildings.

Families are housed in Army properties in nearby Ambrosden.

At the time of the cuts announcement, the MoD said it planned to make a decision on bases by the end of 2012. But the decision was delayed, and last night the MOD confirmed its announcement would now be made in early this year.

It is understood the base is unlikely to be sold off as its buildings are in good condition, and some of the accommodation blocks are relatively new.

As part of the overall cuts regiments currently based abroad, including Germany, will return to the UK and will need bases.

Bicester’s MP Sir Tony Baldry said he was not privy to any decision about St David’s Barracks, but hoped it would remain a military base, He said: “I would very much hope that St David’s barracks will be home to serving army units.

“With troops starting to return from Afghanistan and troops relocating back to the UK from the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) the MOD need to put all their accommodation in the UK to best possible use.”

Bicester Town Council leader James Porter said the MoD remained tight-lipped about the future of the barracks.

He said: “Our understanding is that the military are considering the site for future military use.

“We are like everyone else waiting for the announcement.

“Everybody is very tight-lipped.”

He said the council was working alongside other organisations to support soldiers who had been made redundant, and their families, to find alternative employment.

MoD spokesman Chris Fletcher said: “The decision over St David’s Barracks has been delayed, but we are expecting to make a decision in early 2013.”

Restructuring will see the Army reduce from 102,000 to 80,000 troops by 2015.

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