Selling Bisley for Profit

BACKGROUND:

  • 1896 the NRA move from Wimbledon to Bisley where they had an arrangement with the MoD to use about 80 acres (now Bisley Camp), where various shooting clubs built clubhouses and rifle ranges were established.
  • The NRA paid the MoD approximately £7,500 for the right to use this land and in order for the ranges to be effective they needed an extensive danger area for the bullet fallout, which the MoD gave.
  • The NRA secured the freehold of the central area on Bisley Camp, not the large fallout area.
  • February 2000 NRA purchase a 125 year lease from MoD for around £80,000 including the fallout. The lease expires 2124.

The Proposal…a ‘Killing House’ training facility!

In 2017 the NRA sent out an email inviting select members to a 2018-2020 ‘Strategic & Development Review’ as per the below. During the presentation NRA Chariman John Webster told the meeting that the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) had approached the NRA as they need a Southern based facility to match their other two at Sellafield and Doonray.

Bisley doesn’t have such a facility so the CNC have to train in Sellafield. The CNC would require a secure barb wired area for the ‘Killing House’ with no access for NRA members. This facility enables them to practice storming a building with live ammunition to free hostages.  However in addition to a Killing House, tactical assault teams need to practice storming planes, trains, busses, cars, abseiling or fast roping from helicopters etc. They also need to practice fire and manoeuvre in open land and built up areas so if they require such a training facility they would need more than just a building and a range.

Webster suggested that the CNC would be prepared to acquire the whole of the NRA land at Bisley. Webster went on to suggest that such a deal would require the NRA to move to a purpose built facility in a new location, such as Salisbury Plain. The reason that the CNC and other Police organisations such as the MET want Bisley is its closeness to London and easy access from the M25. Webster said it was therefore a realistic proposition which the Trustees are considering.


An NRA Member informs us that they were at a lunch in the Surrey Rifle Association Clubhouse during the Ages Match in 2017 when John Webster was also present. Webster repeated that the CNC have got the Sellafield facility but also want facilities in the Midlands and South. They see Bisley as the facility in the South. The NRA are looking at developing a new range to the left of Cheylesmore where their staff can advance through a simulation, firing as required. Webster added that the CNC and two sister armed forces are all in need of firearms training facilities in the South. He speculated about the possibility of an offer of, say, £100 million, for them to take over Bisley. That would give the NRA the money to develop a new southern range, say on Salisbury Plain, where we would be less hemmed in by houses etc, and also develop other existing regional ranges.

Based on their past performance we don’t believe the trustees would want to consult with the membership, rather do a deal and reveal it as ‘fait accompli’.

NRA proposed selling Bisley Camp

Webster repeats this in 2019

In 2019 NRA Chairman John Webster once again announced at a dinner that he was considering plans for selling off parts of Bisley for profit, which could be “worth up to £100 million”. Apparently discussions were had with a large security company such as G4S or CNC and that in the event of a sale the NRA would look at alternate sites to relocate the NRA HQ to, such as Sailsbury Plain.


Andrew Mercer has a past of carving up for profit

While he was CEO of the East of England Agricultural Society in 2007, Andrew Mercer carved up 19 acres at the showground and sold it for £7 million as a development project to large housing provider Barratt Homes. There were “concerns that the valuable resource will be carved up for profit” as the showground’s area was reduced to about 230 acres.


Is this the NRA Master Plan?

Is this why the NRA are hell-bent on ignoring historic commitments made to Tenants and looking to bring both Bisley Camp businesses and tenants ‘in-house’? Is this why they are willing to waste millions on litigation over the years.

Is their master plan to sell out and have us shooters loose out? Do the NRA actually care if they lose their charitable status? In the event of a sale this could be more profitable for them…

Bisley Camp. Surrey.