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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Workington Army careers office closes as defence cutbacks bite

The Army careers information office in one of its key recruiting grounds will close tomorrow.

Tony Cunningham photo
Tony Cunningham

West Cumbria is one of the heartlands for soldiers in the Duke of Lancaster Regiment with service personnel from the region serving in Afghanistan.

But the Army has confirmed it is closing the office on Jane Stree, Workington, in response to an increasing number of online inquiries via computers, smart phones and electronic tablets. Speaking to the News & Star, an Army spokesman confirmed that MOD cutbacks were also a factor in the decision.

News of the closure comes as up to 5,300 Army job losses have been outlined by the government to help plug a £38bn hole in the defence budget.

“We have to make sure we spend tax payers’ money appropriately and if there are better or more efficient ways to bring people into the Army, it would be remiss of us not to consider them,” the spokesman said.

The Workington office will shut but the careers office in Carlisle will remain open because it caters for all the armed services.

Lesley Jackson is secretary for the Workington branch committee of the Royal British Legion and an active fundraiser for the charity. She said: “It’s a crying shame.

“There has been an Army careers office in Workington as long as I can remember. Soon we are going to be left with nothing: it’s awful. It’s also a shame for the guys working in there.

“They give sound advice and encouragement based on experience. They won’t get that by typing a letter online.”

Workington MP Tony Cunningham, who had not been told about the closure, said: “West Cumbria has a very proud history of people serving their country.

“This is a blow to the community because the Army has a presence going back to the Border Regiment, and it is also another loss for the town centre.”

He added: “Often decisions like this [whether to sign up] are also family decisions made with the help of mums and dads or grandparents.

“How do you do that online?”

Lt Col Leanda Pitt, commander of regional recruiting, said: “Army recruiting teams have been examining the way recruiting is done to make sure it is more efficient and effective.

“The Army is still recruiting in Workington and there are jobs available now.

“I’d encourage anyone interested in knowing more to visit our website www.army.mod.uk or our careers office in Carlisle which will remain open.”

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