Army Basing Programme partnership praised in independent report
Wiltshire Council's partnership with the Ministry of Defence to prepare for thousands of service personnel and their families moving to Wiltshire, has been held up as an example of best practice.
The Army Basing Programme will bring 4,000 service personnel along with 3,200 family members to the UK's largest military training area at Salisbury Plain by 2019.
The council has been working closely with the Ministry of Defence (MOD), its estate management organisation - the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) - and partner agencies to ensure the right infrastructure, facilities and services will be in place for the arrival of Army personnel and their families.
5 RIFLES was the first unit to move to Wiltshire last summer where provision of additional school places was created with extensions at Bulford Kiwi Primary School and St Leonard's Primary School.
The majority of service personnel will move in the summer of 2019 and preparations are well underway to ensure everything is in place for their arrival.
The successful collaboration has now been held up as an example of best practice by the Local Government Association (LGA) which carried out a peer review of the programme.
The LGA peer review report says: "The council has played a lead role in delivering the Army Basing Programme, working within the Military Civilian Integration Programme framework and this has been a significant factor in achieving the progress and success to date."
It adds: "The LGA would be pleased to work with Wiltshire Council to discuss how its good practice can be shared with those other local authorities in England who are working with the Ministry of Defence on military relocation."
Baroness Scott of Bybrook, OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council said: "We are proud of our long military association here in Wiltshire and we are looking forward to the next chapter as we welcome more service personnel to Salisbury Plain as part of the Army Basing Programme.
"This programme will bring major investment to Wiltshire and we are working closely with the Ministry of Defence and key partners to ensure all the necessary facilities including additional school places, roads and housing are in place. To have this independent confirmation we are on the right track is welcome news as we look forward to the challenges ahead."
Colonel James Coote, Commander Headquarters South West said: "I am delighted that the Wiltshire MCI programme has been recognised as an example of best practice nationally. Throughout my dealings with Wiltshire Council I have been humbled by their commitment to, and support for, our service personnel and their families. The team has spared no effort as they seek to integrate the growing military population fully into the local community. The accolade is extremely well deserved."
The council asked the LGA to review its management of the Army Basing Programme in September 2016. LGA representatives interviewed council members and officers together with its MOD, Homes and Communities Agency, civilian police and fire services partners. The LGA report praises the work of the council and recommends it maintains its commitment and governance arrangements to take forward later phases of the programme.
The construction programme for the 917 service family homes in Ludgershall, Bulford and Larkhill is scheduled to start in August 2017. The build of additional school places including a new school building for St Michael's Primary School will begin in the summer of 2018 with more school capacity in place by August 2019 in time for the move of the majority of service personnel to Salisbury Plain in the summer of 2019.
Throughout my dealings with Wiltshire Council I have been humbled by their commitment to, and support for, our service personnel and their families.