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Preston politicians fail to present united front on Barracks closure

Posted on - 9th February, 2017 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Garrison, News, Politics, Preston Council
No smoke without fire! Passions were raised in the debate about Fulwood Barracks Pic: Stephen Geraghty
No smoke without fire! Passions were raised in the debate about Fulwood Barracks Pic: Stephen Geraghty

A Tory councillor has expressed her disappointment after saying she was forced to vote against her own motion to help save Fulwood Barracks.

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Garrison ward’s Charlotte Leach had tabled a move to ask Preston City Council to write to the Defence Secretary asking for a review of the ‘misguided’ decision to close the historic garrison.

However, amendments made by Labour councillors left the Conservative group saying they could not support the motion during the full council meeting on Thursday (2 February) due to the nature of its wording.

Cllr Leach said: “Despite the fact that the Labour Party submitted an amendment, I was still proud to propose my motion in the firm belief that, as drafted, it fairly reflected the situation and outlined comprehensively the importance and significance of the Barracks to this city.

“The Council meeting was very heated and I was extremely disappointed that we couldn’t put on a united front. However, the campaign did not stop at last week’s council meeting and both myself, and many of my colleagues, will continue to fight to save the Barracks.”

Read more: Petition launched to save Fulwood Barracks

Amendments made by Riversway councillor Peter Moss made reference to government cutbacks and deeply criticised the Conservative government’s policies.

Councillor Peter Moss and Councillor Charlotte Leach clashed on the issue
Councillor Peter Moss and Councillor Charlotte Leach clashed on the issue

Cllr Leach said during a speech in the council meeting: “Quite clearly councillor Moss took one look at my motion and instead of seeing it as an opportunity to work cross party, something which happens so rarely in this chamber, he decided to amend the motion and turn it into a highly politicised rant. Quite frankly I’ve never been more disappointed.

“This is an issue which is important to me, as a Garrison ward councillor, as well as many of my colleagues and for councillor Moss to see it as an opportunity to score political points just goes to show that there is no substance to what he is saying and it is simply political posturing.

“Does the councillor opposite seriously think that his amendment is going to be received more kindly by the Secretary of State? Perhaps he should learn that sometimes it is far more powerful to write firmly and passionately than aggressively.

“I was hoping to come out of this meeting feeling like we had done something which all Prestonians could be proud of and sadly, if this amendment is carried, I will leave feeling incredibly disappointed that the focus will not be on the importance of saving the Barracks.”

Read more: How serving at Fulwood Barracks was this soldier’s dream

The Labour group, who have a majority on the council, voted through the amended motion which is to be sent to the defence secretary Michael Fallon calling for a detailed explanation of the decision to close the grade-II listed Barracks and better consultation with the city council.

Speaking after the meeting councillor Moss said: “All Labour councillors on Preston City Council fully support the campaign and the motion to try to prevent the closure and sell-off of Fulwood Barracks.

“Our amendments were proposed simply to strengthen the motion, widen its scope and put the proposals to close the Barracks in a proper context. For example, the original motion did not mention anything about jobs, soldiers or their families. Some errors were also amended.

“In proposing the amendments I expressed the wish that all councillors work together to oppose the Government’s proposal to close Fulwood Barracks. The Liberal Democrats supported us in this, but sadly the Conservative councillors voted against the amended motion.

“We will continue to work to try to get the Ministry of Defence and the Government to change its mind on Fulwood Barracks.​”

What do you think about the Fulwood Barracks closure? Let us know in the comments below

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