24 JAN 2017

Helen launches petition to save Maidstone barracks

Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant is launching a petition opposing the closure of Invicta Park Barracks.

The petition calls on the Ministry of Defence to reconsider this decision in light of the negative impact upon some 800 service personnel and their families as well as our County town both economically and socially, and through loss of the army's longstanding civil community support.

Helen said, 'From all of the soundings I have taken so far I know that many local people are concerned about the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks, breaking centuries of military tradition in Maidstone. There is also great affection for the town's vibrant Nepalese community and local people are wanting to show their support for them. I feel duty bound to launch this petition and provide an official platform for people to voice their opposition. I am also sending a survey to around 10,000 randomly selected addresses in the central Maidstone area to allow people to share their views about the proposed closure of Invicta Park Barracks. The survey can be downloaded here http://bit.ly/2kjPxSI and I encourage anyone and everyone to take part.'

The petition is available online at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-maidstone-barracks. Petition forms are also available at Helen Grant's constituency office on the London-bound forecourt of Maidstone East railway station. The petition will be handed in to the Ministry of Defence before Easter this year.

Leader of the Maidstone Nepalese community Mr Dhan Chand issued the following statement;

'We all feel that that this decision will have a devastating impact on our community. We have always been encouraged to take a long term view and create a permanent home here and we have worked so hard for many years to become an integral part of the Maidstone community.

We hope that people from across the borough will use Helen's petition and survey to voice their opposition to the barracks closure and help us to keep Maidstone as our home.'

Lt Col J B Awford (ret), former Commanding Officer of Invicta Park Barracks, said;

'I believe the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks is unsound. It will be a negative step for the army, for Maidstone and, no doubt, for the established Nepalese community.'

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