Ask the Commander - Responses
I would like to start by highlighting that the status and most privileges enjoyed by members of the BFG Community are granted under the Status of Forces Agreement and not the UK’s membership in the European Union (EU). This Agreement will remain unchanged following our departure from the EU.
However, a number of benefits, including Kindergeld, do stem from membership of the EU. The UK and EU have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a time-limited implementation period, which is expected to run until the end of 2020. We anticipate that common rules will remain in place until the end of the Implementation period. Therefore families rebasing in the Summer of 2019 should not notice any changes resulting from BREXIT.
I would like to start by clarifying that across the 3 services and civil servants, the Ministry of Defence has a number of Isolated Detachments (ISODETs) based in Germany in locations for example Flensburg, Növenich and Koln. These staff posts were not included in the Army Basing Plan and will therefore remain after the closure of HQ BFG. As the title suggests, ISODETs are often singleton posts and are sparsely located. It is estimated that the number of people in these ISODETs will remain around 250 strong, which with their families will make the total around 750 people.
Work is on-going to determine the future support arrangements for ISODETs and individuals remaining in Germany after the closure of BFG in 2019. However, it is likely the provision of Firm Base will be different after the closure of BFG and services may be provided in new ways.
I understand that 2 Fd Coy Elec Pl has been operating in accommodation that is not intended to be an office space and this is the primary cause of the temperature issues you have been experiencing. I understand that suitable alternative office space has been identified for these offices on the ground floor of Building 3 in Rochdale Barracks and so this problem has now been resolved.
I am aware that an electronic notice board has recently been installed at the gate in Rochdale Barracks to replace an existing, broken asset. This replacement notice board will provide wider awareness of barrack and security issues and will become an increasingly important messaging tool as we approach drawdown. In addition to this, the notice board will be allocated to an alternative MOD site once BFG no longer require it and so this investment, part of an ongoing 2 year programme, will not be wasted. I would also like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we will continue to scrutinise spending as we approach drawdown, but that also we will continue to invest where it is needed.
I can confirm that an application form which has been correctly authorised and has the correct supporting documents should be processed without time restrictions. Staff working in the Pass Office have been informed of this.
I understand that your application has now been process by the Paderborn Pass Office, but I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
We are governed by central Catering, Retail and Leisure Management policy which set out clear and specific rules for entitled and non-entitled personnel. These state that the only people that pay discounted or 'entitled' rates are Serving Personnel or UKBCs on detached duty away from their duty station.
Therefore, although I agree this would be a nice gesture, there is no scope within the rules for BFG to take this forward.
Firstly, I would like to point out that we are extremely well supported in terms of health service delivery in BFG. As we approach drawdown it is likely that there will be adjustments to how services are delivered. The healthcare delivery partner is currently developing proposals regarding the drawdown of medical facilities, in line with the BFG drawdown plans as a whole however, no decisions have yet been taken. Be assured that the drawdown of the medical facilities will be based on the population being supported and that alternative arrangements will be made for those affected.
Once the proposals have been considered they will be communicated to the Chain of Command and the wider community.
The Army is currently considering options for the future of the Wet Wide Gap Crossing capability, including 23 Amph Troop. No decisions have yet been taken but I can confirm that the options being considered include the provision and delivery of welfare and other support facilities. We expect that a decision will be made as quickly as possible so that the unit can advise those affected. We are very conscious of the challenges that this presents to those involved. Be assured that whatever the decision, you will be well supported.
A system is already in place for the recycling of workplace waste. Under the current arrangements, general waste from the workplace is taken off-site by a contractor to be sorted, separated and recycled.
The Saturday opening of Forces Post Office 16 is a 4 month trial providing a mail only service as has been widely advertised. We are unable to provide cash services on a Saturday and there is no plan to do so in the future.
The current Forces Mail Settlement agreement with Royal Mail is based on an outbound 1st class service only as it was not deemed viable for Royal Mail to offer a 2nd class service from the UK.
1st and 2nd class services are available from Forces Post Offices in Germany however, although all post is dispatched simultaneously, when it reaches the UK, the items are separated and moved by Royal Mail using the requisite service.
Although 2nd class from the UK is not available due to the BFPO contract with the Royal Mail, the cost of sending a standard letter by 1st class post using a BFPO address is still considerably cheaper than sending it to a Germany address (the cheapest equivalent Royal Mail service to Europe is £1.57) or using any other comparable courier service.