I READ your report of a major infrastructure investment for Faslane in some dismay (Faslane investment will be catalyst for regeneration, says Mundell, The National, February 28). It was announced as a great investment in the local area of Helensburgh and the Gareloch.
I beg to differ.
It used to be that navy people moved to Helensburgh with their families and contributed to the life and business of the town. There are still large numbers of retired navy people living in the town but the policy on settlement has changed.
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This announcement is another expansion of the new town of Faslane. The navy used to bring crew members to live in Helensburgh. They lived in the several housing estates that were built to accommodate them. These estates have now mostly been sold off; about half of Churchill is now privately owned or in the hands of a local housing association. Even those that the navy retains are largely empty. In the remaining navy streets of Kent Drive or Hardy hill it’s like a ghost town. The numbers of navy people seen in the town spending money in the pubs, clubs and restaurants is now minimal.
The local area gets little or nothing from Faslane. A very large majority of Naval personnel are quartered in the base Monday to Friday and travel home to other places at the weekend. Faslane has its own shops, entertainment, sports facilities and a continually growing number of accommodation blocks to house the navy.
At present we have a fair number of security employees in MDP and Guard Force; we have a shrinking number of people working in logistics and in maintenance. The rest are navy and contractors that live elsewhere. I read recently that the cleaning and hotel services is to be put out to contract. This may mean reduced hours for local staff or possibly part-time workers being brought in on an as-required basis. The sister armament depot of Coulport has diminished from a place employing thousands, in the time when Polaris missiles were maintained there, to a couple of hundred now that the US maintains the Trident missiles and the warheads are made and maintained in establishments outside London.
Despite the spin put on it by politicians, this new investment will expand Faslane into the surrounding land and continue the centralisation of the navy on its own estate. There will be little benefit to local people other than some short-term construction work.
I WAS horrified to read the article Faslane Investment Will Be Catalyst For Regeneration, Says Mundell, with Faslane being doomed to accept the entire British submarine fleet by 2020. A Memorandum of Understanding apparently has been signed by the UK Government and Royal Navy and Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership (whoever they are!). I presume, that knowing Scotland is opposed to the present nuclear fleet at Faslane, with all its dangers and unreported accidents, no-one from the Scottish Government was allowed to take part in this charade.
It is probably not well-known that the original reason Faslane was made the nuclear submarine base was not to benefit Scotland, but because all the English and Welsh MPs objected to it being in their territory “because it would harm their tourism”. Now consider the disastrous effect, including increasing danger and pollution, this plan will have to the whole Firth of Clyde, with Helensburgh in particular, with every UK submarine stationed there. Also how can any intelligent person believe the whole country can be protected by having all the submarine fleet on only one site?
I believe it is urgent that all political parties and individuals who believe in a nuclear-free Scotland unite to stop this stupidly dangerous charade. I also believe that it is even more urgent to vote for independence from a corrupt Westminster Government.
HOW ironic to hear filibustering MP Philip Davies complain about abuse. Perhaps this may prompt him to reflect further on the impact of domestic violence in its many forms, and regret his bid to stop the Istanbul Convention being ratified.