Decision on Training Centre 'After Election'

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), January 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

Decision on Training Centre 'After Election'


Byline: Tomos Livingstone

A FINAL decision on a pounds 13bn training centre for the armed forces the Vale of Glamorgan will not be taken until after the general election.

The Ministry of Defence wants to centralise all training for the services at one site at St Athan, in what would be the biggest-ever single investment inWales.

Backers of the plan say it would create 5,000 jobs, although many will be transfers from elsewhere. There have alsobeenconcerns overwhether the Private Finance Initiative scheme will deliver value for money.

Yesterday, the MoD confirmed the final sign-off would not take place until after the election, meaning the decision may fall to an incoming Conservative government. Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell said it was "not uncommon for a project of this size and complexity to experience delays".

In a written update for MPs, he said: "Plans have advanced considerably, but the work has exceeded the assumptions made in 2008 and hence the change towhenthe investment decision will be taken... the project is on track for an investment decision in the summer."

The project has already been given planning permission by theVale of Glamorgan council. Anelection isexpected in early May, andmust be held by June 3 at the latest.

Last year, Tory leader David Cameron told the Echo that the St Athan scheme had to demonstrate it represented value for money.

But he added: "The point is everyone wants this to go ahead, every party is committed to making this work." John Smith, the Labour MP for the Vale of Glamorgan who intends to stand down at the election, said: "I welcome the firm timetable provided by the Minister which will allow local people and businesses to get ready for the start of this transformational project.

"There can be no doubt whatsoever that this Government is committed to the project going ahead at St Athan." Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said: "This Government has always shown 100% support for the St Athan project, which will be the single biggest UK Government investmentWales has ever received and will bring thousands of jobs to the Vale of Glamorgan. …

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