More than 1,000 in Plymouth have left military since the General Election
MORE than a thousand service personnel in Plymouth have left the military since the Coalition came to office in the face of sweeping cutbacks.
The scale of the exodus revealed in a Freedom of Information request will fuel concerns over the impact the Government’s cost-cutting drive is having on the armed forces, and the Navy in particular, and the city’s economy.
Figures published by the Ministry of Defence show that there were 220 redundancies at Devonport between April 2010 and last December.
Over the same period, 10 service personnel lost their jobs at both 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery at the Citadel, and HMS Raleigh in Torpoint.
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But the statistics also reveal that 740 members of the armed forces at Devonport quit of their own accord before the end of their contract during this time, as did 100 from Stonehouse-based 3 Commando Brigade, 50 from 29 Commando, and 30 from HMS Raleigh.
Information was not available on the number of personnel who were not replaced.
But the Ministry of Defence has previously revised down the number of redundancies having to be made in the Navy, as it had been able to slash posts through other measures such as slowing recruitment and so-called “natural wastage” through people leaving.
It has already been acknowledged by top brass that force morale has been hit by the drive to slash spending.
The senior service is having to shed 5,000 jobs by 2015 leaving a standing force of around 30,000.
Responding to the newly-released figures, Conservative MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter said: “This is very disappointing news because the armed forces makes significant investment in these young lives.
“We do need them to be retained to help defend our country.
“I hope we are not cutting our defence budget too far and too fast and live to regret it.”
And Tory MP for South East Cornwall Sheryll Murray, whose daughter is an officer in the Navy, felt the service had taken too much of the cuts burden.
She said: “There is very little fat to trim from the Navy from now on. We have to make sure the services are operating on an equal basis.”
The information also showed that 230 civilian staff based in Plymouth had left the MoD in since 2010.
Of these 150 were lost through redundancy while a further 80 retired or resigned.
The MoD is in the process of cutting 25,000 armed forces personnel and 29,000 civilian staff over the period in the biggest round of cuts to the military since the end of the Cold War.
Devonport has also seen all four of its Type 22 frigates scrapped, and one of its amphibious assault ships mothballed.
The Herald revealed last year that more than 600 Navy jobs will go from Devonport when the base’s nuclear submarines move to Scotland.
This has lent added urgency to a campaign to bring the next generation of warships to Devonport to ‘backfill’ the personnel gap left by the submarines departure to Faslane.
It comes as an announcement is expected shortly by the MoD on the future of the naval estate, although successive governments have made commitments that Devonport is secure.
But the future of HMS Raleigh has again come under the spotlight following the decision not to re-locate 45 Commando from Arbroath in Scotland.
Naval training is currently carried out at both HMS Raleigh, for ratings, and the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, for officers.
One option raised as part of a potential consolidation of naval training sites was to base the marines at Torpoint.
Mrs Murray is seeking ministerial assurances on the future of the base, a major employer in her constituency.
“We need to make sure there is not a closure there. Raleigh is hugely important for the economy of South East Cornwall and the wider Rame peninsula,” she said.