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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 00:16 GMT
Debate planned over defence site
DARA at Almondbank
A decision on the agency's future will be made at Westminster
The future of a military repairs facility in Perth is to be debated by the Scottish Parliament.

SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham has secured next week's members debate on the possible privatisation of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (Dara).

The news comes as Labour MP Gordon Banks urged UK Defence Secretary Des Browne to visit the facility.

The Ministry of Defence announced plans in May last year to sell the business, which carries out military repairs.

Canadian company Vector Aerospace has since been named the preferred bidder.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unite and Prospect have all expressed concern over the proposed sale.

'Quality work'

Almondbank has been recognised as a state-of-the-art centre of excellence in helicopter repair and other defence work and employs about 200 staff.

A decision about the plant's future will be made at Westminster.

Ms Cunningham said: "Although it is a decision which will be taken in Westminster, I think it is essential that as many opportunities as possible are taken to support the position of the joint trade unions at Almondbank and to highlight concerns about what privatisation would mean.

"And, of course, the Scottish Parliament has a very real interest because of the important part that Dara plays in the Perthshire economy."

Mr Banks, the Labour MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, met the defence minister Baroness Taylor in December over the future of the site.

DARA worker
The facility carries out repair work for the military

The MP called for the MoD to take the union's concerns seriously.

He said: "These discussions are very important as they concern the livelihoods of Dara's workforce but also the Ministry of Defence's ability to maintain its helicopter fleet.

"Inevitably the main focus of the discussions was the unions position with regard to the government's proposals to sell Dara to Canadian firm Vector Aerospace."

Mr Banks said that if the union's proposals could not be adequately considered before any final decision was made about the sale of the facility then he would press for a delay until all sides of the argument had been aired.

He added: "I will be writing further to the minister to seek an immediate meeting with her so that her concerns can be discussed in greater detail with myself and other interested parties.

"I will also be extending an invitation to Defence Secretary Des Browne and Baroness Taylor to visit the Almondbank facility to see first-hand the quality of work produced there in support of our front-line forces."



SEE ALSO
Defence repair site sale 'insane'
25 Jul 07 |  Tayside and Central
Protest at defence repairs plant
13 Dec 07 |  Tayside and Central
Silent protest by defence workers
10 Dec 07 |  Tayside and Central
MoD considers sale of repair site
23 May 07 |  Tayside and Central

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