Gosport MP vows to lobby MoD against planned HMS Sultan sale

Signing off at this year's HMS Sultan Summer Show
Signing off at this year's HMS Sultan Summer Show
HMS Diamond

Picture: Shaun Roster/www.shaunroster.com

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THE MP for Gosport has vowed to pile pressure on the Ministry of Defence to reverse plans to sell the town’s military base.

An estate strategy by the Ministry of Defence has outlined that HMS Sultan will wind down by 2026.

It’s a very long term schedule, so I will do everything to urge the Ministry of Defence to reverse this decision. The educational training provided there is outstanding and it’s a great asset to the Gosport community.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage

The base’s responsibilities for mechanical engineering training will move to HMS Collingwood in Fareham and the Admiralty Interview Board will go to Portsmouth Naval Base.

Submarine engineer training will be transferred to the Clyde, in Scotland.

While leaders are pleased jobs will be kept, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage believes HMS Sultan – also famous for its Summer Show – must stay.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘I am disappointed, because it’s something I have been struggling with for the last seven years.

‘The fact most jobs will be staying in Gosport is positive for residents. But it’s still disappointing.

‘It’s a long-term schedule, so I will do everything to urge the MoD to reverse this decision.

‘The educational training provided there is outstanding and it’s a great asset to the Gosport community.’

Gosport’s Fort Blockhouse is also set to go by 2020, which Ms Dinenage said was set in a ‘beautiful waterside location’ in need of development.

Cllr Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: ‘We will be looking to the MoD to provide areas of job creation and put back into the community what they have taken out over the last 20 to 30 years.’

The MoD says the aim is to provide a ‘smaller but better estate’ for the armed forces and their families.

Selling sites will help the government build 55,000 new homes across the country, cut defence running costs by £140m over the next decade and pay for £4bn worth of improvements.

HMS Nelson’s Wardroom in Portsmouth and Southwick Park are already on the disposal list.

Defence secretary and former minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, said: ‘While in many areas we use our estate efficiently, overall it is still too big, too expensive, with too many sites in the wrong locations: it covers 424,000 hectares, about 1.8 per cent of the UK land mass; it costs £2.5bn a year to maintain; and 40 per cent of our assets are more than 50 years old.

‘The armed forces are 30 per cent smaller than at the end of the last century, but the estate has only reduced by nine per cent.

‘That is why the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) committed to invest in a better built estate that will reduce in size by 30 per cent by 2040.’