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Wednesday 20th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

MILITARY firing ranges have become death traps after the withdrawal of range wardens whose job was to prevent anyone wandering into the danger area, a union warned yesterday.

Unite said that in one incident last week a group of Gurkha soldiers using ranges at Hythe in Kent walked down the range they were using.

The range next to them was still being used and the soldiers were in the arc of fire, so they could have been injured or killed.

“Had there been a range warden stationed at the range, they would have been able to monitor the users’ behaviour, as they have always done, and stop any unsafe practices,” said Unite regional officer Bob Middleton.

Military training grounds across the country have been managed for the last 20 years by private firm Landmarc, which has recently withdrawn dedicated wardens in response to Ministry of Defence (MoD) funding cuts.

“The firing ranges have become death traps because the wardens, who used to look out for people inadvertently walking into the line of fire, have been withdrawn as part of Landmarc’s cost-cutting agenda, rubber-stamped by the Defence Ministry,” Mr Middleton added.

Unite has written to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon but has received no reply.

Mr Middleton warned that “a family with young children out walking the family labrador could take a wrong turn and be blown to smithereens because of the government’s privatisation agenda.

“Cost-cutting can’t come before public safety.”

He revealed that more than 80 firing ranges are affected.

The MoD was not available for comment.