02 NOV 2017

Helen continues her fight to save Maidstone Barracks

Equality Impact Assessment urgently requested from MoD


A survey has shown that 92% of Maidstone Residents oppose a government decision to close Invicta Park Barracks. The survey was carried out by Maidstone & The Weald MP Helen Grant ahead of delivering a petition of some 5000 signatures to the Ministry of Defence last week.

Mrs Grant has also revealed what may amount to a serious breach of the 'Public Sector Equality Duty' obligation by the Ministry. She has demanded an explanation in a hard-hitting letter delivered with her petition to Tobias Ellwood MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence.

Helen said 'The nub of the issue is that the MoD should be carrying out an equality impact assessment for Maidstone's Invicta Park Barracks before the final decision to close is taken, and that the outcome of the assessment should form a part of the eventual decision. However, when I put this to the Ministry in a formal question I was told that the assessment would only be carried out once the barracks are closed. That makes a nonsense of the entire procedure and I have now asked for an explanation. If the MoD fail to fulfil their obligation they may be open to judicial review, or even an action under the ECHR'.

In her letter Mrs Grant points out that '....the ramifications upon the cherished and settled Maidstone Nepalese community [which] must be taken into account within any impact assessment that you undertake. The long-term effect upon family life and the potential discrimination issues arising from closure should not be underestimated.'

Speaking after her visit to the Ministry of Defence Helen said, 'The will of the people of Maidstone is clear. They value the historic and intrinsic nature of Maidstone as a garrison town and are fiercely protective of the wellbeing of our close knit and much loved Nepalese population. I will fight to ensure the Government considers the full impact of this closure, which will potentially wreck a happy and settled community of many hundreds of civilians and military personnel'.

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