Garrison town residents fear defence cuts

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Indy Politics

Residents living and working near Europe's largest garrison today spoke of their fears as the defence cuts were announced.

Many businesses in and around Catterick said they relied on the soldiers and their families for trade and said any defence cuts could be damaging for the area.

The North Yorkshire garrison has a total civilian and military population of around 20,000, with a thriving business community.

Bev Partridge, the mayor of nearby Colburn and owner of Colburn Fisheries, said any defence cuts would be "horrendous."

She said: "We rely here on the soldiers, the wives and families.

"The children go to school here and the wives get jobs around here so it affects our business in many ways really."

"Mine does, with families coming in and soldiers when they are home.

"And the guys on exercise, they come in and use us. A lot of the businesses are reliant on the Army and their families.

"We have an awful lot of people, families coming for passing out parades.

"All their families come and stay round here so hotels will suffer.

"They (politicians) need to take a long hard look. It is not just the initial reaction of things that will happen now, but obviously in the future as well. It is all going to have a knock-on effect.

"We need to keep the troops going in case anything happens war-wise and obviously short-term is for the local community, the schools, the businesses and everything else really."

Simon Riddell, who runs a local opticians, said: "The whole infrastructure of the garrison and Catterick itself has been built up over years to cater for the military base, so a large proportion of our business comes from the troops in general.

"When the garrison is away, like they have just been in Afghanistan, there is a downturn in general trade. Soldiers are just coming back now so trade is picking up."

He said 50 to 60% of his trade comes from the soldiers and their families.

He said cuts "would have a pretty bad effect around here."

"There is a little bit of concern," he added.

Chelby Davies, who has lived in Catterick for 10 years, said she was concerned about security at the base once the defence cuts took effect.

"I feel safe. If I moved now I don't know what to do. I know the police officers around here. The Army is like a second family to me. "If it changes I don't think I will want to live here anymore. The security of Catterick is the most important thing now.

Her friend Jessica Gaught was fearful of any defence cuts and the implications for Catterick.

She added: "I think it would have a big effect, a huge effect. The garrison won't be a happy place, really. It won't be as safe as it is now. Security matters around Catterick.