Soldiers 'will not cause disorder'

THE Army has quashed fears that a huge influx of soldiers will cause disorder on the streets of Woodbridge.Woodbridge is gearing up to become a ''military town'' when the 23 Engineer Regiment moves into new £80million barracks at Woodbridge Airfield in June.

By Richard Smith

THE Army has quashed fears that a huge influx of soldiers will cause disorder on the streets of Woodbridge.

Woodbridge is gearing up to become a ''military town'' when the 23 Engineer Regiment moves into new £80million barracks at Woodbridge Airfield in June.

Around 650 soldiers and their families will take up residence at the new barracks and in housing on the base.


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Woodbridge Town Council has granted the regiment the freedom of the town and councillors are looking forward to a boost in the economy and other benefits from having a regiment based a few miles outside the town.

However, there are concerns that violence could flare in the town between local troublemakers and the Army. Woodbridge police will be undertaking joint patrols with the MoD for a trial period.

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Ian Farthing, Woodbridge police inspector, told the town council that any trouble would not necessarily be initiated by the soldiers.

''If we look at other military towns it will be a bedding-in process. Most of the Army residents will leave the establishment at weekends,'' he said.

Mac Miles, a former mayor, said: ''The Army is very different compared with what it used to be. Fifty per cent of them are married of which 25% will live in single rooms on the base and at 12.30pm on a Friday they will go home.

''The younger ones will probably have a drink, perhaps here in Woodbridge, but mostly go to Ipswich. The Army do not forsee any problems at all and I do not think they will ransack the town. The regiment is keen to be part of the town and to integrate.''

An Army spokesman said yesterday ''There are many instances of Army units across the country where they have made a valuable contribution to their local communities.

''Engineers in particular have a proven track record of positive and resourceful involvement in local communities. They respect the environment in which they live and operate and benefit the community in which they serve.

''Equally, the relationship has to be one of mutual respect and understanding, and 23 Engineer Regiment is fully aware of its role as a new neighbour to the people of Woodbridge and the surrounding area.

''At a meeting last month to meet with their new neighbours, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hutchison, Commanding Officer of 23 Engineer Regiment, made it clear he wanted to bring down any fences between the military and civilian communities at the airfield to build one strong community. Many of the facilities will be available for use by the community including a community centre and sports hall.

''In addition, the Army can and does add a lot to a local community and the impact on crime is often minimal. Indeed it is well known that when the Parachute Regiment left Aldershot to move to Colchester in 1998, crimes figures rose in Aldershot and fell in Colchester.”

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