MP ‘still hopes Argylls can avoid cuts’

ARGYLL and Bute MP Alan Reid says he still hopes the UK government’s plan to reduce the size of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders will not come to pass.

The coalition government announced at the end of last week that the Argylls would be reduced in size from 465 to around 150 men, and downgraded to a ‘public duties company’, responsible for ceremonial and sentry duties at Balmoral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle.

The decision to ‘re-role’ the battalion met with an outraged response from the area’s MSP, the SNP’s Michael Russell, who said the Argylls were “being reduced to almost nothing” and said Mr Reid “should be hanging his head in shame”.

Mr Reid said that while he was pleased that the “long and proud” tradition of the Argylls would continue, he was “obviously disappointed” at the plans to reduce them in size.

“The Government give poor recruitment as their reason for this,” he said.

“I have tabled questions to the Defence Secretary to check the facts on this. The army restructuring is not due to happen for at least two years, so I still hope that the reduction in the size of the Argylls will not be implemented.”

The regular Army’s strength is to be cut from 102,000 to 82,000 personnel by 2020; the remaining members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders will be redeployed into other battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.