My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have now approved, effective from 1 August 2007, the early closure of the non-explosive (NE) elements of the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency (DSDA) site at Longtown.
Under the Future Defence Supply Chain Initiative (FDSCi), the MoD assessed a range of options for managing and operating the defence supply chain to reduce costs of ownership, while maintaining or improving service levels and enhancing operational capability. The selected option included plans for the withdrawal of all non-explosive storage from the DSDA Longtown by mid-2009.
Since the announcement, work has been undertaken to design a stock relocation plan that will reposition Longtown non-explosive (NE) stocks to other retained DSDA sites. The stock relocation plan has matured and, as a consequence, it is now clear that DSDA has the opportunity to bring forward the planned Longtown NE closure date to the end of July 2007.
The proposal to withdraw NE stocks from Longtown early will affect 62 staff. Approximately 350 staff will be left at the site. Additional staff will be required for the ammunition box task (refurbishing ammo boxes), which transfers from the NE to the explosives business at the site on 31 July 2007. As a consequence, there will be no early release scheme or compulsory redundancies.
I recognise that the early withdrawal of NE stocks from the DSDA Longtown will not be a welcome prospect for those staff who stand to be affected. The DSDA is, however, confident that it can manage the changes without recourse to compulsory redundancies through a combination of the transfer of staff to vacancies on the Longtown explosive site and by releasing staff on fixed-term appointments.
Consultation with the trades unions has been completed and there were no substantive matters raised that preclude implementation. On this basis, I have decided to fully implement the change.