It’s that time of year again! The shops are full of gift sets, the radio is playing Christmas music and for most of us, thoughts will now be looking forward to the festive period. For many, it’s a time of stress and happiness in almost equal measure! Finding the perfect gifts, deciding how late to leave the big Christmas shop and trying to fit everything all the extra things you need to do into your schedule. Personally, I’ll be spending Christmas at home with my family with some of us travelling to the Brecon Beacons for the New Year with friends.
While you may be looking to the future at the moment, I’d like to take the opportunity to draw your attention elsewhere. I know the whole country has been commemorating the centenary of the First World War in 2014 and many of you will have attended remembrance events. It’s a reminder that, while it is the men and women on the front line who deserve the praise, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to facilitate the nation’s military power. DIO is part of that so as 2015 rapidly approaches it’s a good time to look back at everything DIO has achieved this year.
From a personal point of view the most noteworthy DIO event of 2014 was joining the organisation in September! It’s a testament to our staff that DIO has kept functioning so well despite these changes.
Next Generation Estates Contracts
What else has happened this year? A number of the Next Generation Estates Contracts have been let and several have commenced, including the National Housing Prime and the National Training Estate Prime. These are the result of years of hard work and are intended to save money for defence while providing an improved service to our users.
Projects Major and Minor
On the projects front, work has been progressing well on a number of major projects. These include the transformation of RAF Lyneham into Defence Technical Training College Lyneham, the work underway at RNAS Yeovilton to get it ready for Wildcat helicopters and the work at Beacon Barracks in Stafford to ready the site to be a hub for the Royal Signals.
Several other large projects have been completed this year, including the Defence Medical Centre at Whittington and redevelopment of Elizabeth Barracks to make it fit to house 1 Welsh Guards. Smaller projects can also have a big impact on our users, such as the creation of a childcare centre at Wattisham Flying Station or the construction of new accommodation.
We’ve raised money to support defence priorities by keeping the size of our estate under constant review and selling off land and property which are surplus to defence requirements. We raised £53million in March through the sale of Brompton Road underground station, for instance, and we have just exchanged contracts on the Old War Office.
Some of our work is not, perhaps, what you might expect us to be doing. For example, we repaired coastal defences in Kent after bad weather threatened flood damage at Lydd and Hythe Ranges. Some of our SD Training staff from Catterick were involved in facilitating the first two stages of the Tour de France, which passed Catterick Training Area and our archaeologists and ecologists have been doing sterling work in their respective fields (pun fully intended).
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have seen the huge range of jobs held by DIO staff and consequently, the many ways we contribute to supporting the Armed Forces. This ranges from allocating and maintaining accommodation to ensuring range safety during training, from looking after the land to reducing military energy use, and from maintaining runways to providing major new facilities costing millions of pounds.
I’m very proud of the work DIO does and I know that next year we will continue to work hard to deliver better services and more projects to support the Armed Forces and enable further optimisation of the Defence estate.
In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.