MoD to move 1,400 workers from Bath to Bristol

MoD Abbey Wood
Image caption The MoD's Abbey Wood centre contains some of its most modern facilities

The Ministry of Defence has announced that it will close all three of its sites in Bath and relocate 1,400 staff to Abbey Wood in Bristol.

The MoD said closing its Ensleigh, Foxhill and Warminster Road sites in the city would save it £39.5m over the next 15 years.

Bath and North East Somerset Council, trade unions and local MPs had hoped the Ensleigh site would remain open.

The MoD said its "complete vacation of Bath" would be complete by March 2013.

The decision to close Ensleigh was made by the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan at the end of an extended consultation period.

He said: "In these difficult times the MoD must continue to drive down support and estate costs wherever possible.

'Bitterly disappointed'

"This is why, after fully considering the concerns expressed to me, I have decided that, on balance, relocation from Bath to Abbey Wood represents the most cost effective and efficient solution for the department."

Bath's Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster said he was "bitterly disappointed" that the decision had been taken to close the Ensleigh MoD site.

"Today is a very sad day and the move ends a proud relationship between Bath and the Ministry of Defence that has lasted 72 years," he said.

"Despite lobbying from all parties in Bath and North East Somerset Council, local trade unions and both local MPs, compelling arguments to keep 1,500 MoD staff in Bath have been overlooked by the government.

"From the outset, I have argued that a full relocation to Abbey Wood is bad for Bath, bad for the MoD and most importantly bad for the staff."

The move to the large Abbey Wood complex in Filton is due to begin in autumn 2012 and be complete by March 2013.

The staff will join a further 1,200 Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) employees from Bath who are already in the process of relocating to Bristol.

Staff involved in the transfer are the remaining non-DE&S staff based in Bath, including the People, Pay and Pensions Agency, Military Aviation Authority, Defence Analytical Services Agency, Defence Internal Audit, Defence Academy and Financial Management Group.

The MoD said the three vacated sites in Bath would be offered to other government departments before being put up for sale.

Mr Foster said that he was working to ensure that the Ensleigh site would be used for affordable housing.

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