26 MAR 2018

Campaign against barracks closure latest

MP Helen Grant keeps up pressure – Minister to visit Maidstone Barracks

Helen Grant MP, who is leading a campaign against the closure of Maidstone's Invicta Park Barracks after almost 200 years of history, is maintaining pressure on the Ministry of Defence.

In order for the Barracks closure decision to be lawful the Ministry of Defence have an obligation to fulfil what is known as the Public Sector Equality Duty. This is to protect groups of people and individuals against discrimination. One way to fulfil this duty is to undertake an Impact Equality Assessment.

Mrs Grant has been in correspondence with the Minister asking whether an appropriate equality impact assessment had been / will be carried out.

In his written responses the Minister said that there will be a strategic level screening initially, which will determine the need for a detailed Equality Impact Assessment at site level, and the scope of any such work.

Helen said 'I was reassured that the Minister formally accepted his department's obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty. I then pointed out that the need for a site-specific assessment here is surely essential, because of the effect of closure upon the large and settled Nepalese military and civilian communities in Maidstone, among others'.

'Subsequently, at a briefing last week, the Minister and his senior officials appeared to give some ground. They advised that the army are now making plans to ensure that the impact of any eventual closure upon the Gurkhas and their families will be heavily mitigated. The Minister has also offered to visit the barracks on the issue and I am now in the process of making those arrangements'.

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