DUDLEY North MP Ian Austin has reacted quickly to condemn the government's plans for the Territorial Army (TA).

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced the TA will be renamed Army Reserve and Dudley's TA regiment, the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry (RMLY), will be renamed with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.

TA regiments are paired with regular army units and the RMLY is partnered with The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which has headquarters in Scotland. The government says the new name better reflects the command structure of the unit.

The Dudley squadron is also set to merge with a unit in Telford and although there will still be a TA base in Dudley their new HQ will be in Croydon.

Mr Austin says the change could put the long-term future of the TA in Dudley in doubt as running the unit from such a long distance away will be more difficult.

He said: “This has confirmed our worst fears. The RMLY was a popular and expanding regiment with deep roots in the local community. The Defence Secretary should have listened to the supporters and families of RMLY officers and reservists. 

“People in Dudley make an enormous contribution to the country through our local TA base but the new HQ will now be over 190 miles away making it much more difficult to sort out problems, support training and recruit new members. I’m worried it will put the long-term future of the TA in Dudley in doubt.”

The government plans to increase the size of the UK Army Reserve to around 30,000 personnel who will work alongside a regular force of 82,000. The changes are expected to be completed by 2016.

Mr Hammond said: "As well as improving recruitment opportunities the greater concentration of Reserve units in fewer locations, and their increased proximity to their paired Regular units, will enable more effective use to be made of manpower, infrastructure and equipment."