CADETS, officers and staff at a Poole Air Training Corps are reeling following the shock announcement of the closure of their squadron.

The 2391 Parkstone Squadron ATC will close at the end of the month, leaving two uniformed officers, ten civilian staff and 38 cadets out in the cold.

Douglas Collett, chairman of the Squadron Association Civilian Committee, told the Daily Echo: "The officer commanding Dorset and Wilts wing of the ATC arrived on the squadron and requested to address the staff and cadets.

"Image the shock and utter belief of all concerned when, without any prior consultation with any member of staff or the civilian committee, she summarily announced that from February 22 she was suspending all activities of the squadron with a view to closure, stating that there was 'no suitably qualified officer to take over'."

The present commanding officer at Parkstone is stepping down from his post, due to ill health.

However, Mr Collett says that when the shock announcement to close the squadron was made, the present uniformed Warrant Officer - who has assisted in the running of the squadron for 24 years - was in the room.

"The WO is very much respected by not only the cadets and staff, but the members of the local branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) as well, who work closely with the cadets in all of their activities and training.

"I therefore raise the question as to why this dedicated officer is being by-passed and what the urgency is to have the squadron shut down?"

According to Mr Collett several other ATC squadrons in Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire are currently run with a WO in charge - and have been for many years.

Over the years 2391 Parkstone Squadron ATC has assisted the RAFA in raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Mr Collett said: "Our government is actively encouraging cadet forces around the country to expand and train young people in the skills essential for a better social environment.

"Why then is this essential activity being shut down? Should the worst happen it would be extremely difficult to reinstate at a later date.