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RAF Real Estate

Old 7th Nov 2018, 08:05
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RAF Real Estate

On one of my fairly frequent visits to Cranwell recently I found I had the time to re-live my youth (or at least 24 weeks of it) by taking a walk around the College side of the Station and was pretty dismayed to see the state of some of the real estate. Gone was the 9-hole golf course (ok..pitch and putt) which was now completely overgrown, the Qaboos facade looked like any maintenance has long been forgotten (peeling paint, weeds in the guttering, rust spots on the ironwork) and the cricket square on the Orange, which I understand was only installed at some expense a few years ago, appears to have gone to seed. On speaking to some of the youngsters (i.e. cadets) it also became apparent that there was no heating in CHOM and certain classrooms in Whittle Hall were out of bounds when it rained due to leaks in the roof. Not a great first impression for those joining the Service and the many visitors to the RAF's spiritual home - I wonder if Sandhurst and Dartmouth are suffering a similar fate? On a more positive note Cardiac Hill is still there but not as steep as it was in my day!!
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 08:35
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You ought to have tried 3 years of it. Though on the plus side the heating never failed in South Brick Lines (aka Junior Entries') one just put more coke' on the stove.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 09:08
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On a more positive note Cardiac Hill is still there but not as steep as it was in my day!!
Yes - it used to be really really steep!
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 10:45
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What is/was Cardiac Hill? My memories of Cranwell were that it was flat - Running round the North Airfield for the Knocker Run did, however, feel like running up Everest - just more horizontal!
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 11:22
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This can most likely be attributed to the current policy of not 'wasting' money on maintenance but rather waiting to a building is truly broken then (maybe) paying to repair it. Or closing the station, which ever is cheaper (e.g.: Lyneham). Though this is more expensive in the long term it pushes the problem to the right where it becomes someone's else's concern. The buildings you saw clearly hadn't achieved a sufficiently decrepit state to be worth repairing yet.....

As for the golf course & cricket pitch, these would be considered no longer a core requirement for any maintenance. Cheaper to play any cricket matches 'away'.

There simply is no money for the basics given the size of the equipment budget 'black hole'. Once we've procured it it's also left to deteriorate, but at least the defence industry is kept ticking over. There are more votes in industry than defence.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 12:34
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I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
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Originally Posted by Ken Scott View Post
​​​Or closing the station, which ever is cheaper (e.g.: Lyneham).
Surely not, new build, refurb, upgrade are usually precursors to closure of transfer to the Army.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 12:40
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Back in 1973, over the Christmas Grant, some bright spark decided to save money by turning off the heating. I had to come back a day early due to the vagaries of airline travel at that time of year and the only way I could keep warm was to go out in my car - the shops were all closed otherwise I'd have bought a fan heater. Food? Forget it, the local pub was the only option.

When the heating came back on, the cold soaked walls streamed with condensation, pipes burst and it cost a fortune to rectify all the damage in College Hall. Many times the perceived cost savings of turning off the heating.

Appalled to hear about the current state of the place from Tedderboy, the only way to fix it would be to announce a Royal Visit in the early New Year, perhaps.

I'm with you, Old Bricks - maybe 'Cardiac Hill' is the outside edge of Bristol Woods?
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 12:45
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Originally Posted by Ken Scott View Post
This can most likely be attributed to the current policy of not 'wasting' money on maintenance but rather waiting to a building is truly broken then (maybe) paying to repair it. Or closing the station, which ever is cheaper (e.g.: Lyneham). Though this is more expensive in the long term it pushes the problem to the right where it becomes someone's else's concern. The buildings you saw clearly hadn't achieved a sufficiently decrepit state to be worth repairing yet.....

As for the golf course & cricket pitch, these would be considered no longer a core requirement for any maintenance. Cheaper to play any cricket matches 'away'.

There simply is no money for the basics given the size of the equipment budget 'black hole'. Once we've procured it it's also left to deteriorate, but at least the defence industry is kept ticking over. There are more votes in industry than defence.
Correct - I donít know if it has a formal term, but we refer to it as managed decline, and it makes no sense other than being a metaphor for the state of the Forces as a whole. We would rather save £1 on maintenance and then spend £10 on repairs that could have been avoided. And the relentless focus on cutting peripheries and non-essential items means we will effectively end up with a core military deemed operational and what isnít cut outright will be left to wither over time.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 13:34
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Originally Posted by Old Bricks View Post
What is/was Cardiac Hill? My memories of Cranwell were that it was flat - Running round the North Airfield for the Knocker Run did, however, feel like running up Everest - just more horizontal!
At the back of the mixed use playing fields around the pavilion, and behind the 'confidence course' is a small thatch of woods. This slopes down into what I'm guessing was at some point a river bed. One particular path cuts down at quite a steep angle. Dips down around 3-5metres. Doesn't sound much, but after a few goes it hurts.


I went through Cranwell in 09/10. Doesn't sound like anything's changed. The square on the orange was there, but never used (and due to injury I was re-coursed so was there throughout the summer in '10). I do recall some people playing golf on occasion though.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 13:55
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Just before I retired we had a new Regional Prime Contract. The aim was to maintain 1st rate buildings, to improve 2nd rate to 1st rate and stop 3rd rate deteriorating - or something similar. The contract was fixed price over 5 years. We thought Christmas had arrived early.

For the first year things that had previously been degrading were repaired, painted, replaced etc. At the end of year contract review a big part of the contract was chopped to save money. Needless to say the book cost of the saving was not passed on by the contractor who had bid for a 5-year fixed price.

I don't know what happened in years 3-5 or indeed for the next PPP round.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 14:03
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I was at Cranwell 2008-2012 and I used to, as an additional duty, maintain the golf course with the help of a former serviceman. We purchased mowers etc but the reason it fell into disrepair is because the overall maintenance of the area was removed from the grounds contract and therefore it was impossible to keep at a reasonable standard. I used to get a landrover from MT and pull the grass cutter along behind on the fairways and the other chap would use the motorised smaller mowers to look after the greens and the areas around the bunkers. Although not the most challenging 9 holes, it was a great little facility which was regularly used. Very sad....
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 14:34
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And they wonder why they are struggling to recruit at the moment.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 14:43
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Originally Posted by Sky Sports View Post
And they wonder why they are struggling to recruit at the moment.
I'm not sure the state of the infrastructure, of which an applicant will know nothing about, is the problem.

Anyway, like a lot of people, I'd just like heating at work that is functional throughout the winter!
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 15:37
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Originally Posted by downsizer View Post
I'm not sure the state of the infrastructure, of which an applicant will know nothing about, is the problem.

Anyway, like a lot of people, I'd just like heating at work that is functional throughout the winter!
Those turning up for their tests are seeing the atrocious state of accommodation and facilities. Heating has been appalling for several years. Not content with just replacing it, they have tried to fix it over the last 3 years. Earlier this year they had to hire in portable heating generators for certain buildings.

The comments those attending their tests, are extremely derogatory. What fun will be had when Halton turn up.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 15:52
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Originally Posted by The Nip View Post


Those turning up for their tests are seeing the atrocious state of accommodation and facilities. Heating has been appalling for several years. Not content with just replacing it, they have tried to fix it over the last 3 years. Earlier this year they had to hire in portable heating generators for certain buildings.

The comments those attending their tests, are extremely derogatory. What fun will be had when Halton turn up.
A former cadet of mine who's been through Cranwell quite recently said some of their course looked forward to being under canvas, rather than in the mess.
He was going Reg though, so maybe can't be trusted..!
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 17:10
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
Back in 1973, over the Christmas Grant, some bright spark decided to save money by turning off the heating.
One of the first things I bought was a fan heater. It came in very useful year after year when heating was switched off at the official season change dates regardless of how cold it was. With everyone else i knew having theirs on full blast, the electricity cost must have exceeded the central heating cost many times over.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 17:12
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The thought of Old Bricks moving at anything faster than an aimless meandering stroll challenges the imagination , indeed these days he might well be terrified of Scrotum accidentally overturning the chariot whilst pushing him up a gentle slope.
Beags, I've spoken to Nurse and she assures me that she wraps an extra tartan rug over you on chilly evenings to stop you getting flashbacks to 1973...
Then there was the 98 cadet who was seen finishing a cross country run wearing a ladies' bra over his P.T. Kit

"I'm training for the Knocker trophy, Sir !"
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 21:41
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[QUOTE=VintageEngineer;10304673]One of the first things I bought was a fan heater. It came in very useful year after year when heating was switched off at the official season change dates regardless of how cold it was. With everyone else i knew having theirs on full blast, the electricity cost must have exceeded the central heating cost many times over.[/QUOT

Detached to Station X any date between 1 Oct and 30 April:

Fan heater
Microwave
TV
Radio
Thick dressing gown
Teddy .............. perhaps not, Teddy too comfortable at home
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 22:22
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[QUOTE=langleybaston;10304895]
Originally Posted by VintageEngineer View Post
One of the first things I bought was a fan heater. It came in very useful year after year when heating was switched off at the official season change dates regardless of how cold it was. With everyone else i knew having theirs on full blast, the electricity cost must have exceeded the central heating cost many times over.[/QUOT

Detached to Station X any date between 1 Oct and 30 April:

Fan heater
Microwave
TV
Radio
Thick dressing gown
Teddy .............. perhaps not, Teddy too comfortable at home
Come come now, no need to be shy amongst friends. I bet youíre not the only one with a teddy still.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 22:22
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Everything to do with infrastructure is a shambles, but to be fair on our lords and masters, they do know about it and agree that it is a shambles. The trouble is there is practically nothing they can do about infra since responsibility for it was taken away from the three services and vested in DIO, which is in the luxurious position of owning none of the reputational risk that its inadequacy creates. "Army housing in poor condition", "RAF runway late and over budget" etc. Never "DIO". There was much talk a few years ago about the services 'taking back control' (to coin a phrase) of their infra, but it's seemingly come to naught as all the potential work-arounds to DIO's uselessness currently fall foul of policies owned by.... yes, DIO.

To be even more fair, it's not just Defence that suffers this BS. The council round our way has been trying for over 20 years to get a moderately-sized infra project done. Four years ago the council leader got so fed up with the continual delays for re-costings, tendering and other BS that he truncated the process against the commercial officers' advice and finally had the bloody thing built. The bill came in 33% overspent. This was duly seized upon by the local press, expecting the politician to be pilloried, but far from it - he's been showered with praise from all sides. The public view appears to be that the cost would have escalated by a similar amount over the last four years whether the thing was being built or not, so the money being set aside over the next couple of years to pay back the overspend would probably have been spent on the project anyway. Nice to see some bold action from a politician!

Last edited by Easy Street; 7th Nov 2018 at 22:41.
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