The Ministry of Defence spent more than £100,000 doing up the Royal Artillery Hunt’s kennels. And the work was carried out while nearby accommodation for serving personnel fell into dilapidation.
The Mirror reported that £121,000 was spent on a “revamp” of the Royal Artillery Hunt’s kennels. It said that a freedom of information (FOI) request revealed that new power and water supplies were installed last year at the kennels on Bulford Camp, Wiltshire. And that this was paid for by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with public money.
Responding to an FOI request, the MOD explained that the expenses were necessary:
“To comply with water regulations, a new replacement power and water main was laid to supply the
kennels at some £121k this cost was covered by the MOD.”
Bulford Camp is part of the British Army’s network of bases across Salisbury Plain. The village is home to serving soldiers and their families. However, the Mirror highlighted the poor conditions many of their houses are in. One anonymously quoted soldier that lives on Salisbury Plain said:
“I have been waiting months for damp and mould problems to be fixed in my house… Most of the accommodation is in a poor state. My children have to sleep in bedrooms with damp walls.”
The Mirror also reported that “during the same period” as work was carried out on the Royal Artillery Hunt’s kennels, “over 9,199 complaints were made by families living in armed forces homes riddled with vermin, damp and mould”. Numbers peaked in April 2021 when 867 complaints of poor quality of housing were made.
The paper goes on to quote a former military intelligence officer that now campaigns for better treatment of personnel as saying the work on the kennels “shows a complete disrespect” to soldiers and their families.
Keep The Ban contacted the MOD for comment on the criticisms in the Mirror article. But it chose not to do so, citing this outlet’s lack of membership of a press regulatory authority.
News of the work on the Royal Artillery Hunt’s kennels emerges as its huntsman, Charles Carter, faces charges of illegal hunting. Local anti-hunting group Salisbury Plains Monitors told Keep the Ban:
“Transparency reveals tax payers funded £121,000 and free electricity and water up until April this year for kennels, prioritised above decent accommodation for our soldiers. On a hunt that is currently being prosecuted for illegal blood sports on MOD land. No respect for our soldiers, no respect for the law.”
There was outcry in April after Renfrewshire Council approved plans for new kennels for the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Foxhounds. Glasgow Hunt Sabs told Keep The Ban at the time that it was “surprised” by the approval due to the future of hunting in Scotland “hanging by a thread”.
This has echoes of the situation with the Royal Artillery Hunt. With Carter up in court on illegal hunting charges, and with the campaign to end hunting on MOD land picking up steam, the Royal Artillery Hunt may be an artefact of history. With this in mind, the MOD may have squandered £121,000 of public money.
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