"I know how pleased my constituents will be to read the attached letter which I have got from the Minister. I pay tribute to the patient, good-humoured and well-argued case that was put forward by the Rec Soc and its supporters, and am glad that the Minister has, somewhat belatedly, recognised that the case for withdrawing the alcohol licence was not soundly based."
"I have worked closely with officers and staff of the Rec Soc to get their case over, and they deserve credit for the hard work they have put into the campaign."
See linked News Items Sept 15th and Sept 2nd, and updated FAQ on Sept 15th
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
OLD WAR OFFICE BUILDING
WHITEHALL LONDON SW1A 2EU
FROM: LORD BACH
18 September 2003
Further to my letter of 12 September, I am now in a position to provide a substantive reply to the issues you raised with me and the Managing Director of the AWE plc, on behalf of your constituents, about the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Recreational Society.
As you would expect, AWE plc is committed to the provision of first-class facilities at the AWE, to sustaining a highly motivated workforce and to maintaining its close links with the local community. The issue of alcohol sales at the AWE Recreational Society was raised against the backdrop of AWE plc's widely publicised strategy for site modernisation, and in the context of establishing how the Society's facilities might be improved. Given the direct association that the Recreational Society has with the AWE, the Department's initial view was that the sale of alcohol on MOD-owned premises directly adjacent to a nuclear-licensed site was incompatible with the image (both physical and cultural) the AWE contractor is seeking to build. As I am sure you will agree, safety and the positive image of a strong safety culture at the AWE is of paramount importance -particularly in view of the interest taken in the establishment's operations by both national and international regulatory bodies. I can assure you, however, that there was no implied criticism of the conduct or integrity of Society members. Indeed, it is a matter of regret that some feel offended by the proposals for the Recreational Society.
As I indicated in my letter of 12 September, I did ask my officials to review the matter raised by your constituents. The review took into account the need for a strong culture of safety at the AWE, including the policy of random drugs and alcohol testing already in operation at all AWE sites, but looked also at the arrangements in place for licensed facilities at other MOD-operated establishments at which safety is no less a priority. In the light of this, I have concluded that the sale of alcohol should continue at the Recreational Society.
I do, however, also wish to be assured that the long-established role of the Recreational Society, together with the services it provides, remain valid and consistent with current policy. AWE plc's plans for site development continue to offer the best vehicle for reviewing the relationships between the various stakeholders. I have, therefore, asked my officials to identify, in consultation with AWE plc and the Recreational Society, what options might exist for maximising the benefits to be derived from the sporting and other facilities at the site. I shall, of course, examine any proposals prior to their implementation.
In the meantime, I hope that your constituents will welcome the continued availability of licensed facilities at the Recreational Society.