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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
Defence repair site sale 'insane'
Dara engineers at a cockpit
Rotary wing and components businesses may be sold
Politicians have voiced their anger after a Canadian company was named as the preferred bidder for a defence repairs site in Perthshire.

The SNP said the potential sale of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (Dara) at Almondbank near Perth was "insane".

Vector Aerospace is preferred bidder for the Dara rotary wing and components businesses, which include helicopter repair facilities in Southampton.

Local MSP Roseanna Cunningham is now seeking a meeting with the company.

She said the announcement was "another lumbering step to what seems to be the inevitable conclusion of a sale to the private sector".

It seems insane to be looking to hive off such an amazing resource
Roseanna Cunningham
SNP MSP

"I do not accept that privatisation represents the best choice for the future either for the establishment at Almondbank or for the MoD," said the SNP member for Perth.

"Almondbank is a state-of-the-art, world-class centre of excellence in helicopter repair and it seems insane to be looking to hive off such an amazing resource.

"By selling to a Canadian company, the MoD will be taking the bizarre step of exporting control of these important jobs and crucial technologies to a Canadian company."

She said she wanted to meet Vector Aerospace to discuss the company's hopes and plans for the future of Almondbank, which employs more than 200 engineers and skilled technicians.

The MoD had announced in May that it was considering the sale of Dara's rotary wing and components businesses.

I hope to be able to make a definitive announcement on the way forward later this year
Bob Ainsworth
Armed Forces Minister

On Wednesday, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth announced that Vector Aerospace have been selected as the preferred bidder.

"I hope to be able to make a definitive announcement on the way forward later this year, subject to trade unions consultation, completion of due diligence, and the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations that demonstrate the sale provides best value for defence," he said.

He also confirmed that the MoD would go ahead with the merger between Dara and the Army Base Repair Organisation (Abro), based in Stirling.

The new service will provide in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade capability for the armed forces.

Unions oppose any move to sell off Almondbank, which they are worried could jeopardise jobs.

However, the MoD has stressed that the interests of the workforce will be taken into account "at all times".


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