§ Mr. Ingram
The process that led to the close of the Ministry of Defence site Aston Down stemmed from the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) Study 2G1. This study recommended the formation of the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency (DSDA) and also recommended that savings equivalent to the closure of a minor depot could be made. As one of the minor units joining the new agency, MOD Aston Down was therefore considered, along with two other minor units, a candidate for closure.
In order to determine how best to make these savings a further study was undertaken. This study was known as the DSDA Rationalisation Study—Phase 1 (DRS1). The study was wide ranging and among other things considered the MOD's future storage requirement against storage capacity and sought to identify the way in which this could be produced in the most cost-effective manner.
Ministers decided that, subject to consultation, savings equivalent to the closure of a minor depot could be best achieved by shutting down the MOD site at Aston Down. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar), the then Minister for the Armed Forces, wrote to my hon. Friend on 10 January 2000 to communicate this and initiate the consultation period, during which all interested parties were given the opportunity to comment on 1308W the proposals to the Chief Executive. In the event the only comments received were from the Council of Civil Service Unions regarding the position of their members. During the consultation period, SERCO, the company running Aston Down under contract, made alternative proposals for future use of the site. SERCO's offer to purchase the site was eventually withdrawn. Once the period of consultation had ended a decision was made to close the MOD site at Aston Down.
§ Mr. Ingram
The Operation and Maintenance tasks at Aston Down were first contractorised in 1986 and SERCO (then RCA) won the competition.
In all there have been four consecutive contracts let -competitively with SERCO for the Aston Down requirements covering the periods 1986–89, 1989– 93, 1993–96 and 1996 to 31 March 2001 when the Depot officially closed.
The tasks carried out by SERCO under the contract(s) were, as follows:Physical storage of all stockholding.Support in the disposal of surplus MOD holdings including surplus vehicles.Stores accountingOperation of all mechanical handling equipment and other on site depot vehicles.Depot domestic support services eg cleaning, messenger/janitorial.Fire and security.Grounds maintenance.Minor maintenance of depot buildings.Processing of spent ammunition containers.Bird control (infestation).SERCO are currently on the site providing a site protection and guarding service while the property is being marketed for disposal.