Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 16:57 UK

Army school set for 3bn overhaul

The Army's Royal School of Engineering (RSME) is set for a 3bn overhaul of its training and accommodation after signing a major contract.

The Ministry of Defence has signed a 30-year contract with Holdfast, a private sector consortium, led by Wolverhampton builder Carillion.

From next January, private sector trainers will teach Royal Engineers skills such as bricklaying.

The RSME has 12 sites at Medway, Kent, and two in Minley, Hampshire.

The RSME trains about 5,500 military personnel every year in courses ranging from construction to bridge-building and mine-sweeping.

'Improved training'

The public-private partnership scheme will also mean bomb disposal and search training moving to Bicester, Oxfordshire, so two of the Kent sites can be used for housing development in the Thames Gateway.

The MoD hopes using private sector trainers will free up about 300 RSME staff for the frontline.

Lt Gen Nick Parker, commander of regional forces for the Army, said: "The RSME-PPP contract combines our best military engineering training with best practise in the commercial sector.

"This will deliver improved training, for the Royal Engineers in particular, that will feed directly into front-line support."

Holdfast will also spend more than 150m on new accommodation for about 1,700 soldiers during the first seven years of the contract.

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