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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Talks in fight to save Longtown munition depot jobs

UNIONS are set for meetings with both Government and shadow cabinet politicians as they fight for 300 jobs and the future of Longtown munitions depot.

ptpeterluff
Peter Luff: Agreed to visit the depot

Talks are scheduled for next month with Peter Luff, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, the News & Star has learned.

Discussions are also due to be held with Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy when the Labour MP visits Carlisle on Monday.

The meetings will see unions continue their ongoing campaign to save the depot. They say plans to shut it “make no sense” and have labelled the proposals “madness”.

Neil Scott, section secretary for Prospect, said: “We are non-political with this. If the Pope comes and he could help us I would quite willingly go to him. We just want help.

“We do not believe this makes any sense at all. It is not the right thing to do.”

The MoD said in November that it planned to close the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency depot at Longtown and transfer most of its storage responsibilities to Kineton in Warwickshire.

A satellite site at Eastriggs, between Gretna and Annan, has already been mothballed. A final decision is expected this summer.

Those trying to save Longtown argue it would make little sense for nationwide munitions storage to be centralised on one site in Warwickshire.

Strategically, they believe the border base is well placed to serve defence demands in northern England and Scotland.

Union leaders say they have already been told that Longtown is set to close in 2014 – two years earlier than they expected.

Representatives from Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City Council are also expected at the meeting with Mr Luff in London on May 16.

Mr Scott, speaking on behalf of the joint trades unions at the site, said their case would be put to the politicians.

He added: “Everything we’ve been told about the site is it is the most efficient and the most effective.

“Yet they say we are not required. It is madness.”

NGriffiths@cngroup.co.uk

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