Councillor mystified by MoD’s stance on barracks future

A COUNCILLOR fighting to secure the future of clubs based on an army barracks that is being decommissioned says she is “mystified” by the Ministry of Defence’s stance.

Cllr Linda Oliver, county councillor for Bassingbourn, was speaking after the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which runs Bassingbourn Barracks on behalf of the MoD, rejected proposals put forward to save Bassingbourn Snowsports Centre.

The Snowsports Centre, and all the other clubs and societies based on the barracks site, will have to vacate the base in March when the gates at the barracks are locked for the final time. The future use of the site remains unclear.

“I’m mystified and extremely irritated by the possibility that all the clubs and societies will have to close and move out, and I don’t accept it,” said Cllr Oliver.

“We’ve had no reasoning at all about why this has to be the case. Many of the clubs have been there for years and served the people working on the base and the recruits who were there, as well as the local community.”

Cllr Oliver has contacted several senior figures in the military to try and resolve the issue, and is working with South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley as well as officials at the county council.

“It’s a county issue because the Snowsports Centre is used by hundreds of schoolchildren every year,” she said.

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Father Christmas made what could be his final visit to the Snowsports Centre on Saturday, descending it’s slope armed with presents for the centre’s junior club’s Christmas party. David Allanson, chairman of Bassingbourn Snowsports, said: “In what was otherwise a fun and joyous occasion, the children were saddened by the news that this might be the last time Santa would descend from the skies with his Christmas cheer.

“Nothing can be done with the facility, it will just be left to deteriorate and become derelict unless the DIO changes it’s mind. It is especially sad after such a fantastic year of sporting success, quite a slap in the face.”

A spokesman for the DIO told The Crow that “general access through the Barracks previously granted to clubs including the Bassingbourn Snowsports Centre will not be permitted” after March 28.

She said: “Supply of utilities to the site will also cease. Bassingbourn Snowsports Centre has been formally notified of the requirement to vacate on 28 March, 2013, in accordance with a clause of the original lease.”

Further details on the future of the barracks are set to be revealed in January.