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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 15:29 GMT
Soldiers and families discuss homes
A senior army officer has condemned cramped and decaying army living quarters and urged the government to improve housing for the armed forces.

Here soldiers and their families describe living conditions in Army barracks.

DARREN, ARMY OFFICER, SALISBURY

Bath
I have been in the Army for just over 16 years now. The housing hasn't improved in all that time. The house I live in at the moment has no shower. The bathroom was fitted in the 60s and it has never been replaced. We are now in 2007 and still living in houses with no showers.

In the beginning, when I was a young soldier, it didn't bother me so much. But now I've got a wife and three children and the living conditions are inadequate. We often don't have hot water, so we have to have cold showers.

Whenever they do renovation work, it's often done to a cheap standard. They'll just fit in new wardrobes - things that are easily broken.

The last time they did repair work in our house, it was because the bathroom was leaking. And as it happened it was leaking onto the fuse box. This is potentially very dangerous. But instead of repairing the whole ceiling, they repaired three inches of it.

Soldiers would love to buy their own properties but on a starting wage of a little over 11,000 a year it's nearly impossible. I bring home under 1,500 a month, and I am a sergeant. I could only get a mortgage of 90,000 and it's not even worth thinking about it.

ARMY OFFICER'S WIFE, CATTERICK GARRISON

Rubbish outside house
I am married to a serving Army officer. From my experience, officers' quarters are good, but no maintenance has been done for years. So naturally things get dilapidated over time. I am used to having open sewage running past the back door and mould on walls.

Single soldiers' accommodation is disgraceful. There is a project called "Project SLAM" to provide them with new accommodation but only one in four soldiers will benefit from it by 2012 - the others are going to stay in accommodation that is substandard.

It's a shame that soldiers who have gone to the Army Foundation College at Harrogate and got a posting to their first regiment have to live in accommodation that has not been upgraded since the 1950s.

SERVING SOLDIER, ANONYMOUS

Half-tiled bathroom wall

The Officers' Mess I live in needs work to comply with current fire legislation. The estimated amount of 70,000 has not been raised. As a result, a whole wing has been closed.

Unless rectification work is started in the next month, 35 living-in single officers will be forced to move into private rented accommodation in Abingdon, at a cost far exceeding the money required for the work.

The vast majority of soldiers live in accommodation not upgraded since it was built in the 1930s. A recent example of how badly things are managed is the purchase of white goods - washing machines and dryers for every wing of every block.

They arrived brand new, but when they were placed in the accommodation it turned out that the existing plumbing and water pressure could not sustain them.

They were withdrawn and remain to this day in our QM's store! No money has been raised to update the plumbing some 9 months after they were bought.

Finally our medical centre is not fit for purpose, yet money needed for refurbishment does not exist. Instead we have to employ a corporal to drive a mini bus of sick soldiers to to be treated in Aldershot. This is despite both regiments trying to generate fit soldiers for Iraq and Afghanistan next year.

Furthermore we wait to see whether we have to make room for another Regiment to squeeze in here in 2008 - at no cost of course!

SERVING SOLDIER, ANONYMOUS

I have just been forced to move my family out of service accommodation. I could no longer put up with the prehistoric condition my family was forced to live in.

We had no heating and we had to send our children to bed wearing hats and scarves to keep them warm. Due to the constant cold, their health deteriorated. We wrote to the RAF News to demand an answer to why they have failed to provide adequate accommodation. They didn't reply.

So I've decided to buy a house for my family in order to move them out of here. Now we live separated - they live in the house, while I am in the garrison.

ANN SCANNELL, FORMER ARMY OFFICER, GERMANY

A loft floor covered with cardboard
As an ex-Army officer and now married to one, I have experienced both single accommodation - the Mess, and married accommodation. There's a perception that there is a preferential treatment of officers, but that's not true. It is equally bad for soldiers and officers.

I spent time in a single accommodation in the Aldershot Garrison. It was built in the 1960s and it was quite literally falling apart. I've seen missing tiles, inadequate lighting, lack of carpets, mould and flaking plaster. Compared to single accommodation, the one for families is better, though far from desirable.


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