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Michael Fallon 'slow to sell off MoD golf courses'

Published 14/01/2016

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has been criticised over the sale of the golf courses
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has been criticised over the sale of the golf courses

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has been accused of acting slowly in selling his department's golf courses after new figures show 13 remain in use.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says 11 courses, one pitch and putt centre and a driving range operate on its land - two fewer than 2015.

It noted the Abercom Barracks course in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland, is no longer used and could be sold while RM Condor in Arbroath, Scotland, is also not in use with the land still part of the base.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster added work is ongoing to potentially dispose of the course at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, which is used by injured servicemen and women.

Stanford Hall is planned to replace Headley Court as the rehabilitation centre for military personnel from 2018.

In January 2015, Mr Fallon used a speech to question if the MoD "really needs to own 15 golf courses".

The details on the golf courses emerged following a written parliamentary question from Labo ur frontbencher Andrew Gwynne.

He told the Press Association: "You have to wonder why Michael Fallon has been so slow to sell his ministry's golf courses, with these figures coming only months after he announced more than 10,000 redundancies.

"Only a year ago he openly admitted his department didn't need to own them, and suggested they would be the first assets to go."

In a statement, an MoD spokesman said: "The Defence Secretary has previously outlined plans to deliver the best possible value from the MoD's property portfolio.

"This process continues through the department's estate footprint strategy which will see the release of surplus land, potentially including further golf courses."

Mr Lancaster, in response to Mr Gwynne's written question, said: " There are currently 11 operating golf courses, one pitch and putt centre and one driving range on Ministry of Defence (MoD) land.

"Of these 11 courses seven are on land leased by MoD that have no other direct connection to the department, one is occupied by the United States Air Force and three are military encroachments.

"The majority of the golf courses located on MoD land are linked to sites that will be addressed as part of the MoD Estate Footprint Strategy to release surplus land.

"Once the future use of any site has been agreed, MoD will look at how to make best use of land that will be retained or bring to the market sites that are being vacated. This will include the potential release of the golf course element.

"As part of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation's ongoing work to rationalise the defence estate the courses at DMRC Headley Court and Ballykinler are being examined for potential disposal through the department's standard disposal process.

"Ballykinler and RM Condor are no longer in use as golf courses."

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