Accommodation Campaign - BAFF latest

#1
First off, BAFF doesn't claim a monopoly on campaigning for decent living accommodation for our serving men and women.

Since its launch at the end of last year, BAFF has been prominent enough in the media quotes on the subject, but this isn't about competing organisations and spokesmen -

* This is about working to increasing the pressure on the Government;

* about making it ever more politically painful for the Govt NOT to provide decent home accommodation for all our sailors, soldiers and airmen;

* to put it more kindly, about making it ever more politically attractive for the Govt to allocate more money to providing decent home accommodation.

It should not have been necessary to add that if the "usual suspects" who comment on the issue were somehow to amalgamate or "speak with one voice", instead of three or four quotes in a typical media report you would end up with just one.

BAFF has a unique voice which cannot be replaced by the great and the good, nor in fact do they seek to, although we often agree on the big issues.

And I'm not sure that Shadow Secretary of State Liam Fox would really appreciate his party being renamed as the "Conservative and Unionist British Armed Forces and Army Families Federation" - although he might be tempted!

So that's some of the background. Recent media stories to follow.
 
#2
Today's News of the World - "Slums for squaddie heroes - Scandal of the squaddies who live in squalor"

See the full story and the photographs.

But for the 'ARRSE' record, this is the bit quoting BAFF:

But scandalously the accommodation is little better at many British bases. An official report recently revealed 19,000 soldiers and their families are in forces accommodation that's not up to scratch. Last night British Armed Forces Federation chairman Doug Young declared: "These pictures from Nicosia show just how bad the situation is.

"Our troops expect robust conditions when they're in the field. But this goes beyond anything they should be asked to put up with.

"British soldiers have been based at the Ledra Palace for a very long time so the government can't claim this is just an emergency. There's been plenty of opportunity to put it right.

"There's absolutely no excuse for this appalling neglect. Our soldiers shouldn't be in these dangerous and morale-sapping conditions."
 
#3
And in yesterday's Sun

From Helmand to hellhole - barracks worse than jail (LINK)

We told yesterday how the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, received a hero’s welcome on their homecoming after six gruelling months in Afghanistan.

Armed Forces minister Bob Ainsworth was in front of TV cameras to greet the unit — which lost nine men and had 54 injured fighting in brutal Helmand Province — on their return to base.

Cavalry Barracks, in Hounslow, West London
, was built in 1793, is already known as the worst military housing in the UK — and was condemned in the 1960s.

But the battalion’s 600 men returned to find their rotting, rat-infested home is more squalid than ever.

And today — just 24 hours after the cameras left — The Sun can expose the shameful truth about the hellhole.

A soldier based at the barracks gave us these exclusive photographs, which reveal:

DAMP-infested walls, roofs that leak like sieves, and rotting, crumbling woodwork;

TWO ageing showers are shared by 15 men, who plug sinks with toilet roll to shave;

RATS and mice run amok, as just three wheely bins overflow from serving 200 men;

TINY rooms are shared by four men — with every nook and cranny stuffed with kit;

JETS from Heathrow Airport deafen squaddies as they pass a few hundred feet over their heads every few minutes.

The barracks has far worse living standards than any of the Victorian prisons it resembles from outside.

One soldier at Cavalry Barracks told The Sun last night: “If they banged up rapists and murderers in this place, there would be public uproar.

“So why the hell is it OK to be our home?
My bold. More to follow.
 
#4
Hackle,

The historic raiding of the Estates budget to fund shortfalls in other capability areas is well-documented and recognised. It must also be acknowledged that the Government is committing funding to resolve the issue, although the quantity and timing of the funding, coupled with the huge lead-in time to sign off contracts, will ensure that delivery of new accn is not as fast as we would perhaps desire.

I imagine that all the SLA referred to is currently classed as Grade 4 for accn charges which effectively means, quite properly, that very little or nothing is paid for accn.

Soldiers do, however, pay full food charges whilst occupying this low-grade accn, and it would be a thoughtful, and well-received gesture, if the Treasury were to authorise field conditions, where appropriate, whilst this situation persists.
 
#5
Counter-Bluffer-Ops said:
Hackle,

The historic raiding of the Estates budget to fund shortfalls in other capability areas is well-documented and recognised. It must also be acknowledged that the Government is committing funding to resolve the issue, although the quantity and timing of the funding, coupled with the huge lead-in time to sign off contracts, will ensure that delivery of new accn is not as fast as we would perhaps desire.

I imagine that all the SLA referred to is currently classed as Grade 4 for accn charges which effectively means, quite properly, that very little or nothing is paid for accn.

Soldiers do, however, pay full food charges whilst occupying this low-grade accn, and it would be a thoughtful, and well-received gesture, if the Treasury were to authorise field conditions, where appropriate, whilst this situation persists.
Sound points, if I may say so.

Incidentally, I have been the first to acknowledge the commitment of additional funding to accommodation, often drawing attention to such announcements right here on ARRSE.

I have gone out of my way to stress in both TV and radio interviews that there is some very good accommodation now available.

Despite that, we have also had to mention that even with the additional funding allocations, the refurbishment programme means that it is still possible for an individual to join HM Forces tomorrow, and spend a reasonable number of years in uniform with perhaps several operational tours, and yet never get the benefit of the improved accommodation.
 
#6
So, here are three different quotes from the SUN: Barracks worse than jail story mentioned earlier.

Comment: The three quotes surely complement one another, but each speaks with their own voice. If they had been forced into the straightjacket of "speaking with one voice" as suggested elsewhere, we would surely have ended up with a single quote - produced by a committee.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a ex CO of the battalion, raged last night: “This is the last straw for a regiment that has served its nation with pride and courage since the 1740s.

“It appears little has changed for their accommodation since then. It is extraordinary that they are asked to live in sub-standard buildings that have been condemned.

"Constituents of mine are outraged that their sons are living in worse conditions than prisoners. If the Prime Minister dares to deny this, he is living on another planet.”



British Armed Forces Federation chairman Douglas Young said: “That they should return to these appalling conditions is a national outrage. It is unthinkable that the Government could have neglected their home like this while they were away.

“What sort of a welcome home is that? What a sad message that gives to these brave guys about how much we value their sacrifice.”



An Army Families Federation spokesperson added: “We have been lobbying about the state of families’ accommodation for a long time.

“There have been decades of under-investment. We just want some action now.”
 
#7
hackle said:
Comment: The three quotes surely complement one another, but each speaks with their own voice. If they had been forced into the straightjacket of "speaking with one voice" as suggested elsewhere, we would surely have ended up with a single quote - produced by a committee.
I agree with you 100% on that Hackle. A classic example was the uniting of the Field Sports Groups under the one umbrella organisation of the Countryside Alliance. The concept was one united voice, which has a reasonably powerful punch; but the effect was to have 1 quoted comment from our side against the 3 or 4 opposing views quoted.
 
#8
To take Hackle's point:

The more (separate) voices, the better. If one were to channel all of these protests through a single organisation Ministers would have a relatively easy task in stifling public comment. The very fact that there are many voices makes that process so much more difficult for them.

We're dealing with a Government which has specialised in 'news management' from day one. It is in its interests to reduce the number of individual protest groups down to one. You can bet that it will at some stage suggest a 'joint meeting of all parties' - in order to acquire a measure of control. That is (or should be) a standard manoevre for any 'news management' team.

If this campaign is to get anywhere it needs very widespread and vocal protest. So, as and when such a suggestion is put forward by HMG, it would be as well to bear that in mind. I'd suggest that any such 'joint meeting' should be followed by press releases from each of the organisations invited, and that any hint of a post-meeting 'joint statement' be strongly resisted.
 
#9
Unsworth said:
T
If this campaign is to get anywhere it needs very widespread and vocal protest. So, as and when such a suggestion is put forward by HMG, it would be as well to bear that in mind.
Until everyone gets bored of 'whinging soldiers'.


msr
 
#10
msr said:
Unsworth said:
T
If this campaign is to get anywhere it needs very widespread and vocal protest. So, as and when such a suggestion is put forward by HMG, it would be as well to bear that in mind.
Until everyone gets bored of 'whinging soldiers'.


msr
Well that's a possibility - so shall we give up now, then? And what about 'moaning cops' or 'rebellious teachers' etc, etc.

No, all the time our people are visibly involved in these wars, fighting and dying, the sympathy balance is in favour of the military.

And that has actually been the trouble. Once there is relative peace the great British public will, as you say, get bored with the 'whinging'. The armed services will slide off the front pages of newspapers, the television news, and that means less public support for decent conditions, pay, kit and so on. Before we know where we're at there'll be public support for troop reductions and 'modernisation'.

Not being too cynical, but I say that right now is the moment to campaign for these necessities.
 
#11
Recieved an interesting letter from "The Rt Hon Don Touhig MP" (his words not mine) yesterday after I wrote to him after his shoody display in the Defense Policy Debat.

The under investment in service accommodation is due to the Tory's defence spending policies of the 80's so come on folks stop blaming these nice guys in government. Its not their fault, it happened under someone else's watch.

How many years do they need??????????
 
#12
msr said:
Unsworth said:
T
If this campaign is to get anywhere it needs very widespread and vocal protest. So, as and when such a suggestion is put forward by HMG, it would be as well to bear that in mind.
Until everyone gets bored of 'whinging soldiers'.


msr
Thank you both for those points.

On 'whinging soldiers', BAFF spokespeople (not just me) do take a balanced position, and I always try to throw in a positive comment where I can. After all, one of our prime aims is to uphold the status of the military profession.

As well as down-the-line interviews, I've been a studio guest on a few phone-ins. (Most recently, I had the great honour to be the 'on-side' speaker in a phone-in to mark this week's launch of the Annual Poppy Appeal in Scotland.)

True there has been the occasional caller to say "in my day we had to march 5 miles to the cookhouse and 5 miles back again, both times uphill ... Boots? we had to make our own boots out of wood...", etc

But in my experience, most of the anti "whinging soldiers, they knew what they were getting into" brigade have been just as anti HM Government as they are anti-today's serving personnel.
 
#13
Counter-Bluffer-Ops said:
Hackle,

The historic raiding of the Estates budget to fund shortfalls in other capability areas is well-documented and recognised. It must also be acknowledged that the Government is committing funding to resolve the issue, although the quantity and timing of the funding, coupled with the huge lead-in time to sign off contracts, will ensure that delivery of new accn is not as fast as we would perhaps desire.

I imagine that all the SLA referred to is currently classed as Grade 4 for accn charges which effectively means, quite properly, that very little or nothing is paid for accn.

Soldiers do, however, pay full food charges whilst occupying this low-grade accn, and it would be a thoughtful, and well-received gesture, if the Treasury were to authorise field conditions, where appropriate, whilst this situation persists.
All very true, but prisoners have better accomodation and dont pay for it or the food charge either. Pretty undefensible either way......
 
#14
I agree with hackle. Metaphorically speaking the only thing that gets action out of modern day politicians is getting them down on the floor in a Half Nelson and threatening to cut their throats! From pay and conditions to accommodation the money that is being given to defence will not solve these problems during the careers of many of today's serving personnel.

Why is it that if Iraq but most importantly Afghanistan are so important to the security of this country is defence such a low priority? If the personnel of the armed forces are so important to defending our way of life why is it that morale is being allowed to be eroded away at such an alarming rate by lack of investment? Why is it that if Afghanistan is such a pivotal position of foreign office policy the government is allowing the forces to disintegrate by lack of care and attention? Just how does the Foreign Office aim to carry out its policy without well motivated armed forces? None of it really makes much sense does it?

BAFF led by hackle are doing a first class job, within their resources, but we need more hands to the pump. To get your point through to the present government you need armour piercing PR shells.
 
#15
The was also a piece in the times yesterday. Just a thought, l was at magilligan training center last month. The acf has a brand new, purpose built center with indoor .22 range & lifts to the upper floors. So how come they can find the dosh for that & not maintbining a soldier's home? A year or so ago while working for sky i was in one of the rooms io one of the old blocks. The new occupant had to put buckets around the room to catch the rain. And then the cieling fell in!.
 
#16
The was also a piece in the times yesterday. Just a thought, l was at magilligan training center last month. The acf has a brand new, purpose built center with indoor .22 range & lifts to the upper floors. So how come they can find the dosh for that & not maintbining a soldier's home? A year or so ago while working for sky i was in one of the rooms io one of the old blocks. The new occupant had to put buckets around the room to catch the rain. And then the cieling fell in!.
 
#17
hackle,

I have a question for you.

A couple of months ago I was chatting to a guards WO2 in a pub. He mentioned that his unit had fairly recently (not sure how recent) his unit had handed over their accomodation to a different Govt department. After a march out (and you probably have experience about how strict that can be) the receiving govt department decided that the army accomodation was not fit to house refugees.

The accomodation was actualy renovated before moving refugees into it. I have made a cursory atempt to google about it but I am still unsure if he was telling the truth. Do you have any information on that?
 
#19
elovabloke said:
Recieved an interesting letter from "The Rt Hon Don Touhig MP" (his words not mine) yesterday after I wrote to him after his shoody display in the Defense Policy Debat.

The under investment in service accommodation is due to the Tory's defence spending policies of the 80's so come on folks stop blaming these nice guys in government. Its not their fault, it happened under someone else's watch.

How many years do they need??????????
Who said there is nothing to learn from Africa? This is just the kind of excuse, repeated week in and week out, that has brought the continent to its knees. Jesus, when will our politicians grow a pair of BALLS or is it only our soldiers that have those.
 
#20
spike7451 said:
Was at Napier bks in july. A Gurkha unit took over the day we left. They stayed one night it is that bad!
If That was adressed to me (was it?), then I doubt it. Possible but does not sound corect. Aparently this accomodation was going straight from British army to imigrants (maybe assylum sekers but not certain{yet I think it was assylum seekers}), I would never (and doubt he would) class Gurkhas as immigrants.
 

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