Ripon fears economic blow as Claro barracks closes after a century

 

The closure of Claro barracks in Ripon will put an end to a military association dating back to before the First World War.

Yesterday’s announcement means that up to 700 troops including the North Yorkshire cathedral city’s own regiment the 21 Engineers which is currently completing a six month tour of duty in Afghanistan, will depart by 2017.

The planned closure prompted anxiety among the 16,000 population at the economic fallout from the Whitehall decision.

Mayor Andrew Williams said he was hoping the Government would find a way to cushion the blow.

“It will have a negative impact on the local economy because the barracks has spending power which goes into the local shops. It is disappointing and sad news,” he said.

“We will be looking at what the Government plan to do to assist the community on which this will have a major impact. I hope they don’t just plan to pack up without some support,” he added.

Local Conservative MP Julian Smith said he planned to meet defence ministers to discuss what help was on offer. He said the priority should be to use the vacated site to promote jobs and the local economy.

“This is a sad day for Ripon which has a long tradition and history of supporting military units and regiments,” he said.

During the First World War more than 30,000 troops were stationed at the barracks including the poet Wilfred Owen following his recovery from shell shock brought on by his first posting to France.

It was here that he wrote Futility shortly before his death in the closing days of the war.

In 1974 more than 1,000 soldiers escaped injury when an IRA bomb devastated the barracks.

After 2017, the 21 Engineers Regiment and 15 Field Squadron will be stationed at nearby Catterick.

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