Borders TA base saved from closure as seven units go

Army careers office in Paton St., Galashiels which has been ear marked for closure.
Army careers office in Paton St., Galashiels which has been ear marked for closure.

The Territorial Army’s Galashiels base needs you, after it survived a raft of cuts to units across Scotland, writes Kenny Paterson.

Seven TA facilities in Wick, Dunoon, Keith, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Glasgow and Edinburgh will be closed as part of UK Government reforms.

The retention of the Galashiels base was welcomed by local MP Michael Moore, who wants Borderers to sign up as part-time soldiers in order to boost numbers.

As well as the reforms including the renaming of the volunteer force as the Army Reserve, there will also be an attempt to boost TA numbers in Scotland from around 2,200 to 3,700 reserve soldiers by 2018.

The UK Government hopes to achieve this by, among other ideas, giving small firms an additional £500 per month when staff are deployed with the reserves.

Mr Moore said: “I welcome that the paper set out a new, better deal for army reservists in the Borders as well as confirming the protection of the unit in Galashiels.

“The Reserves play a vital role in the UK defence forces and the £1.8billion committed by the Government over 10 years to deliver well-trained, well-equipped Reserves will be a huge boost to our local forces.

“This includes improved training, hundreds of pounds of financial incentives to employers and a £42million package of new kit for Reservists to put them on a par with Regular forces.

“These changes will offer Borders Reservists more training, kit and opportunities, while providing more support for their families and employers.

“As we increase the size of the Army Reserve force in Scotland from 2,200 to 3,700, the Army will launch a new recruitment drive in Scotland and I want to encourage Borderers to consider getting involved in the TA and look at the opportunities that are on offer.”

However, the news was not welcomed by the Scottish National Party, with the cutting of seven out of 38 TA centres being described as “disproportionate”.

Angus Robertson MP added: “The changes will arouse suspicion that it is another coalition cost-cutting move not really aimed at modernising the Army for the 21st century.”

But Major General Nick Eeles, who is head of the Army in Scotland, said the bases that were closing had few people attending them and that a new facility is due to be built in Kilmarnock.