Territorial Army bases to close in shake-up

Ashington and Berwick Territorial Army Centres are to close following a Government announcement

Servicemen from the Territorial Army
Servicemen from the Territorial Army
 

A number of North East Territorial Army Centres are to close after the Government announced a shake-up of the service.

Ashington and Washington face the axe, along with Berwick, Eden Armoury in Bishop Auckland and Stockton Green TAC in Middlesbrough.

The announcement came as it was revealed army reservists are to get military pensions and healthcare benefits as part of a bid to drive up numbers and bolster regular forces.

Smaller firms which employ part-time soldiers will also receive an extra £500 per month when their staff are away on deployment.

Companies which discriminate against staff who want to serve will be more open to action at employment tribunals – and ministers have not ruled out legislating to ensure that beng in the TA is not a disadvantage when applying for jobs.

The package, announced by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, is designed to drive up reserve numbers from 20,000 to 30,000 by 2018.

It is expected to cost around £1.8bn over the next decade, with the new Army Reserve expected to get 10% more training and receive better equipment.

The white paper proposals come nearly three years after the coalition said it would be cutting regular army numbers from 100,000 to 80,000.

Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall told reporters: “The Territorial Army, as it has been called up till now . . . is ready for change.

“It has been waiting for this fillip to its vibrance for some years now.”

The MoD said £110m would be invested across the whole reserve estate over the next five years to accommodate the larger numbers.

But the total number of bases will be reduced by 25.

Some 35 TA and three navy reserve bases will be closed – with nine army, two navy and two RAF reserve bases being established at different sites.

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