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Blandford Camp

Volume 453: debated on Monday 20 November 2006

I wish to present a petition on behalf of the residents of North Dorset and those of surrounding constituencies. I am grateful for the presence of the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke), whose constituents are also affected by the subject of the petition.

The petition concerns the Defence College for Communication and Information Systems, which is located at Blandford camp. Blandford camp has been associated with military communications for more than 200 years and the defence college grew out of the Royal School of Signals and the Royal Corps of Signals, which were established there. Under the Government’s defence training review, the two commercial bidders for the private finance initiative plan to relocate defence training to one of two sites, either in the west midlands or south Wales. The current college is worth approximately £300 million to the local economy and employs 3,000 people. The petition has been signed by 4,428 local residents.

The petition states:

The Petition of the residents of North Dorset declares

That the Defence College for Communications and Information Systems located at Blandford camp is a “centre of excellence” that contributes nearly £300 million a year to the local economy and further declares that any proposal to relocate the training facilities by the private sector bidders in the defence training review will have a seriously adverse impact on local employment, skills and the local economy at a time when there is an urgent need for sustainability in rural areas, and in particular in North Dorset.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to ensure that the successful bidder maintains and possibly expands the existing training base at Blandford camp.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

To lie upon the Table.