GOSPORT MP Caroline Dinenage has called for Ministry of Defence procurement and disposal processes, left in place by the Conservatives since the last Labour government more than 10 years ago, to be improved so that taxpayers and local communities see maximum benefits.
The newly honoured Dame Caroline frequently raises questions about local military issues in Parliament. Her constituency has a deep-rooted military history, so ensuring that MoD disposals of military establishments – such as Fort Blockhouse – benefit residents is a key priority.
At Defence Questions in the Commons this week the MP – who has herself moved into a luxury home on the former Haslar Hospital site – said: “I have no doubt that some of the procurement processes that were inherited from the last Labour government led to some of the flaws in the Ajax programme.
“I say that because it is emblematic of a catalogue of wasteful decisions such as the selling off of the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in 2009 for £3 million when it had reportedly been valued at £52 million.
“Could the Minister please assure me that the MoD’s procurement and disposal decisions, such as that involving Fort Blockhouse at Gosport, will maximise the benefit for the taxpayer and for local communities?”
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin responded: “I congratulate my honourable friend on her elevation and it’s good to see.
“She refers, Mr Speaker, to the approval process. That was indeed under the last Labour administration; I think passed main gate approval in March 2010. At around the same time the [National Audit Office] NAO was pointing out there are multi-billion pounds of ‘black hole’ that the Labour Party was leaving in defence at that point in time.
“Getting on to Fort Blockhouse, I don’t believe that will be disposed of until I think 2023, so there is time to get this right. I’m more than happy to meet the honourable lady if that is helpful.”
Dame Caroline said afterwards: “Following the Defence Estate Review in 2016 that announced the closure of Fort Blockhouse, I have worked hard to ensure that the best possible outcomes are received for the sites.
“I am pleased that the Minister is willing to discuss the future disposal of Fort Blockhouse and will urge him to prioritise the best interest of Gosport’s constituents.”
PICTURED: The former Haslar Hospital, sold off by the last Labour government and part of which has now been converted into luxury homes