Ensuring that the Royal Marine base at RM Condor has a long term future of one of my key campaign pledges.
After tireless campaigning, I am delighted the the UK Government has guaranteed the future of RM Condor at Arbroath ahead of the government's Better Defense Estate Review.
12th March - You can read my latest Arbroath Herald column on the reassurances on the future of RM Condor below:
Since 2016, the Ministry of Defence has been reviewing the defence estate throughout the UK to ensure we have the most efficient and cost effective set up to deliver the world class bases our nation needs. A significant consultation was undertaken by the UK Government in order to strike the right balance between working with the community and our future defence requirements. Ever since this development, almost three years ago, there has been a consistent feeling in the Arbroath community that RM Condor should remain untouched.
As we all know, many Royal Marines do not just rotate in for a couple of years and then leave. Often, they lay down roots in our community.
There are many connections – from volunteering to community work that goes hand in hand with the serious training and constant readiness for deployment.
When I was elected as the MP for Angus in 2017, I listened to the opinions of local people about the past of the base, its future and how much it means to them.
It became obvious that there is still a variety of uses for that land, to not only maintain Condor but develop it as a defence asset.
So I campaigned within government, at every opportunity, for a long term commitment to the base – the entire base. I am delighted that these representations have been listened to and acted upon. It has been a long time coming but I have to pay tribute to very understanding colleagues within the UK Government.
Defence reviews rightly have to count every cost to the taxpayer against its benefit, but campaigning for the base was the right thing to do for our community. I am proud to have fought its corner.
Sadly, others have been more interested in scoring political points.
On visits to the base, and speaking to constituents in Arbroath, I have heard much dissatisfaction with the local SNP over their behaviour since 2016.
Even last year, they claimed that the base was going to close in the near future.
I cannot tell you how damaging that speculation has been for an institution which has been part of the fabric of Angus life since 1971.
This move to retain the airfield is an important defence decision, but it is also a symbol of how much the local marines are respected, and how great a role they will continue to play in our defence.
This decision has now given 45 Commando a firm foundation to build on.
16th January 2019 - Today the Prime Minister praised the 45 commando and RM Condor at PMQs.
The Prime Minister has paid tribute to Royal Marines “past and present” who have served at RM Condor as she re-iterated UK Government plans to keep 45 Commando at the Angus base.
Theresa May was speaking in response to a question from the MP for Angus, Kirstene Hair, who has campaigned since her election to retain RM Condor in the area for the long-term.
The Scottish Conservative MP asked during Prime Minister’s Questions if Mrs May would join her in congratulating the men and women based near Arbroath.
Ms Hair said: “I recently welcomed the news from the Secretary of State for Defence and his ministerial team that in fact 45 Commando would remain at RM Condor.
“Zulu company, part of the 45 Commando group recently took part in specialist chemical training which will ensure they are ready to respond first to any chemical or biological attack such as the one we saw in Salisbury last year.
“Can the Prime Minister please join me in congratulating the Royal Marines of 45 Commando, all the men and women that work at the base, for their tireless efforts to keep us safe?
In response, the Prime Minister said: “Can I say to my honourable friend I would like to thank her for raising this issue.
“I know she has raised this in her Westminster Hall debate because it is of importance to her but it is also of importance to many other members around this House.
“And I would like to pay tribute to all the Royal Marines past and present who have served in RM Condor.
“I am pleased to say that we do plan for 45 Commando to remain based at RM Condor barracks in Angus, that we will ensure they continue to have the required facilities for them to live work and train in Angus, and I am delighted to join my honourable friend in congratulating Zulu company for their hard work in keeping us safe.”
9th January 2019 - At a Westminster hall debate I chaired this week, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood confirmed that the future of RM Condor is safe ahead of the MoD's Better Defense Estates Strategy. Thank you to everyone to signed the petition!
A senior government minister confirmed that there are “no plans” to move Royal Marines away from their Angus base.
Angus MP Kirstene Hair secured a Westminster Hall debate urging the Ministry of Defence to secure the long-term future of RM Condor in Arbroath.
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood recorded the MoD’s intention to not only retain the presence of Royal Marines in Arbroath, but look to strengthen the corps’ capabilities.
Ms Hair asked for the debate on the future of the armed forces in Angus, as the UK Government has been reviewing sites across the country as part of its Better Defence Estates Strategy.
Ms Hair has repeatedly made the case for retaining 45 Commando at the Condor base.
Commending the Scottish Conservative MP for her “commitment, her diligence and persistence in supporting the Royal Marines and RM Condor”, Mr Ellwood acknowledged the “vital role” the marines of RM Condor play in the defence of the United Kingdom.
“Colleagues will be aware of the wider need to rationalise our defence estate…
“We are transforming that estate into one that better supports the future of our armed forces.
“In the case of our military presence in Angus, I can confirm that there are no plans to dispose of RM Condor as an operational base.
“As part of our review, we have been investigating how best to ensure that 45 Commando continue to have access to the facilities that they require (where) they live, they work and they train… what more can we add to our military capability in this neck of the woods, at the site, to ensure we make the most of this important facility…
“I reiterate, the intention is to keep them in RM Condor.”
The minister further hinted at possibility of “moving assets” to further enhance Condor’s operational capability.
In a speech to MPs, Ms Hair made the case for greater investment in the local base now to save the MoD from greater costs in future.
“The review should seek to include clear, practical steps towards securing Condor’s long-term future as the home of 45 Commando…
“This review should also consider what more Condor can do, on top of serving as a home to 45 Commando, to contribute to our country’s defence infrastructure…
“The case for a well-established base, in an area with a long and proud military history, where 45 Commando have been truly welcomed into the local community, and where the Royal Marines Cadets have added a new dimension to that unique relationship between military and community.
“And the case for a base that has worked well for the personnel stationed there for decades, and which, provided support is maintained, can continue to do so for decades to come.”
10th December 2019 - RM Condor plays a vital role in the UK's defences as well as being an integral part of the community here in Angus. I believe we must ensure its long-term future, and I have launched a petition calling on the UK Government to retain and strengthen the base. You can read the text of the petition below.
I will be collecting signatures over Christmas and New Year, please feel free to go along to one of the many locations below where you can sign the petition too.