Soldiers digs described as 'deplorable'

SOLDIERS returning from Afghanistan to an Essex garrison town have to endure “deplorable” conditions in the married quarters, it has been claimed.

James Hore

SOLDIERS returning from Afghanistan to an Essex garrison town have to endure “deplorable” conditions in the married quarters, it has been claimed.

Bob Russell, Colchester's MP, hit out after witnessing the accommodation for families on the garrison.

The Liberal Democrat also revealed there are more than 200 army homes stood empty in the town, costing taxpayers' about £700,000 per year which he branded a “waste and a disgrace”.


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Mr Russell spoke out during a debate at the House of Commons about the state of the military in the UK.

He also praised the new army developments which were completed as part of a private finance initiative.

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He said: “I pay tribute to the Government for the new barracks that have been provided in my constituency and elsewhere.

“I am not a fan of the private finance initiative, but Merville barracks, with their accommodation for the single soldier, are a great success.

“However, the accommodation for those in married quarters is deplorable.”

The news comes just days after the EADT revealed troops had spent more than a month living in hotels because of potentially hazardous levels of water-borne bacteria at the town's new garrison.

The precautionary measure took place after problems began at the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess - one of the few old military buildings to be refurbished as part of the new garrison.

More than 30 troops were put up in hotels whilst the problem was dealt with.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said yesterday: “The Ministry of Defence and ministers have acknowledged accommodation has not been that great and are doing a lot to turn that around.

“There has been massive investment programme to improve and upgrade married quarters, but obviously this does take a long time to turn this around.

“The programme includes new kitchens, new bathrooms and new boilers.

“The PFI programme was very much about the barracks and we have seen some amazing changes as a result of that programme but families and the married quarters are very important and there is a lot of investment going into this area.”

The spokeswoman added that the amount of rent each family paid was dependent on the standard of the accommodation they were living in.

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