We passed a significant milestone last month: it was two years since the Ministry of Defence first announced its intention to close our Royal Marines Base at Chivenor. I marked the anniversary by raising the matter again in the House of Commons. I told the Defence Secretary plainly that we need to keep the base open. He has agreed to meet me – again – to discuss this, and I will be making sure he is in no doubt at all about the strength of feeling in our community.
A reminder of the background. In November 2016, the MoD announced plans to close RMB Chivenor. I arranged a visit by the then Defence Secretary, during which he agreed to review the decision. But, more than two years later, there's still no final announcement.
It means huge uncertainty for the local area, fuelled by rumours and counter-rumours. This has to stop. We need a firm commitment now that Chivenor will remain open.
It’s been part of our community for more than 70 years. To lose it would not only hit everyone who lives and works there, but would seriously impact our local economy. That would affect us all, whether or not we have any direct connection with the base. And in these uncertain times, surely we shouldn't be closing an important military and defence establishment?
I want to ensure the Defence Secretary knows the strength of feeling in our community. I want him to understand that RMB Chivenor should not close, and that he should even consider expanding the base's operations to secure its future.
Therefore I’ll be going ahead with his offer of a further meeting and am looking to ramp up the campaign even more. The whole community has already made its feelings clear. I have passed on the many representations I’ve received from councils, business groups and individuals in the last two years and will continue to do so.
The campaign to keep Chivenor open has reached a critical point, and I will leave no stone unturned in arguing our case very strongly indeed.