Chester MP Chris Matheson will fight plans to sell off Dale Barracks army camp that would sever the city’s major link with the military.
Mr Matheson is unhappy after receiving an out-of-the blue email about the MoD plans on Monday evening (November 7).
It follows a House of Commons statement in which the government revealed it will sell off another 56 defence sites by 2040, in addition to the sale of 35 MoD sites previously announced.
A furious Mr Matheson said: “I’m not having it. We have been a garrison city for centuries.”
The 2nd Battalion of the Mercian Regiment, which deployed on three operational tours to Afghanistan, has been based at the Dale in Liverpool Road, Upton, since July 2014.
Mr Matheson said 2Mercian was ‘an integral part of the city’.
Only the other week soldiers from the camp had attended the Diwali Hindu festival celebrations in the city centre.
The MoD letter explains that Dale Barracks will be disposed of by 2023 and existing military occupants and their families will be found alternative accommodation.
Mr Matheson continued: “These soldiers will be marching through Chester this Remembrance Sunday and by the way we’re chucking you out!”
He described the proposal as both a ‘money-saving’ and ‘money-making’ exercise.
Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon insists the changes will deliver better value for money by saving £140m over the next decade and releasing enough land to build 55,000 homes.
Mr Matheson predicts Dale Barracks will be sold off as housing land but wonders whether the existing homes would be demolished as he says military housing stock is known to be of poor quality.
However, he fears expensive housing will be built in their place rather than homes that meet the needs of the local population.
The city MP intends to ‘galvanise constituents’ and start a petition to keep the military here in Chester.
On a more positive note, Mr Matheson said the former RAF Sealand base, now occupied by The Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA), is to become a global repair hub for the European-based F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
Over the lifetime of the programme, hundreds of F-35 aircraft will be serviced and maintained over the border in North Wales, securing 400 jobs with the opportunity for the creation of a significant number of new roles and supply opportunities.
Mr Matheson, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on aerospace, hopes this region can become a centre of excellence given the aviation skills at Airbus and Raytheon at Broughton and now Sealand .
■ The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, has spoken in the House of Lords about his concern at the potential impact of the loss of Dale Barracks.
He said: "I notice that Dale Barracks in Chester are on the hit list. That has been a centre of recruitment for the Cheshire regiment over the years. It is hardly a small and remote site, as referred to in the report. Now the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment is pretty much based there.
"How is recruitment to the Armed Forces likely to be affected by this withdrawal from a large number of sites, where the association with the Army — or the Navy or Air Force, for that matter — goes back a very long way?"