A HUGE army base could be located in Macclesfield after the town’s MP launched an appeal to bring a "super garrison" to the North West.
The Ministry of Defence is to pick sites for five "super garrisons" and MP Sir Nicholas Winterton is battling to bring a base, with around 5,000 soldiers, to the region. The Conservative politician, who completed National Service in his youth, is not ruling his own ward out of the running, and neither are MoD top brass, who would even consider greenfield sites for the monster military base.
After presenting a commons Early Day Motion alongside Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd, Sir Nick said the North West – the army’s most fertile recruiting ground – should be considered.
Sir Nick, who reckons winning a camp would be an economic coup, said afterwards: "This region, and Macclesfield, should be given a fair crack of the whip and it would be ideal.
"The TA barracks on Chester Road were demolished and, with the amount of army recruitment in this region, it seems only fair that there should be a garrison here.
"I am not being so specific as to just suggest Macclesfield, but I feel the town, and Cheshire, should be considered for the super garrison."
He argued a big settlement would be an economic victory for the area, create jobs, and be handy for squaddies to visit their families in the region.
If the garrison did come to Silk Town, it could be similar to the army’s largest base, Catterick Garrison, which already caters for 7,500 regular soldiers, 1,900 recruits and 2,000 civilian staff – with £1billion earmarked to give it "super" status.
Heralded by supporters as "the standard bearer for the changing face of the modern British Army", the North Yorkshire site already has a multi-million pound retail park on its doorstep, and plans for more than 2,000 married quarters are in the pipeline as part of the bigger £1bn investment plan.
Despite the economic and practical plus points mooted by Sir Nick, an influx of troops could put pressure on the police.
Inspector Gareth Woods, head of Macclesfield’s Neighbourhood Policing Unit, said: "There is the potential that this could have an impact on violent crime and disorder and that would be something we would have to prepare for, and plan for."
But he added that it could bring Royal Military Police to the area too, who would help control any trouble-making element of the armed forces.
He added: "From a selfish viewpoint, the military police could help control trouble on a Friday and Saturday night, so I suppose there is a positive side too."
Macclesfield’s Pubwatch vice-chairman, Wendy Smith, landlady of the Swan with Two Necks, said: "It would be good for business, but it would put strain on the CCTV – you’d probably get people from the town putting their fists up to them just wanting to take them on because they’re soldiers."
With 8,500 troops being brought back from Germany over the next four years, defence chiefs need to build them somewhere to live.
A MOD spokesman said: "We are very keen on the super garrison idea, and nobody is ruling Macclesfield out.
"Wherever they are placed, it could mean about 5,000 military personnel in the area, integrated into the community, which would appeal to those considering a career in the armed forces."
Top brass say no decision date has yet been decided, but they are reviewing the idea.
The appeal is being backed by MPs David Crausby of Bolton North East, and David Chaytor for Bury North.
John Knight, corporate manager for planning and development, at MBC, said: "Macclesfield has been identified as a regional centre in East Cheshire as part of a long-term regional development plan.
"It would fit the bill for such a super-garrison town with benefits such as job creation and an economic boost, and we’d be pleased to work with the Ministry of Defence to find a suitable site."