New working group will deal with challenges from West Suffolk airbases

News from the Bury Free Press
News from the Bury Free Press

A new working group is set to take forward a plan to tackle challenges presented by RAF Mildenhall’s closure and RAF Lakenheath’s expansion.

Established by Forest Heath District Council, the Mildenhall and Lakenheath Airbases Group (MALAG) will bring together representatives of the district council, Suffolk County Council, Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

It is intended to follow on from three engagement sessions held by the district council since February to look at the impact of RAF Mildenhall’s closure on housing, communities and businesses.

Ideas raised at these meetings for future uses of the USAF base will be discussed by the working group before being presented the the MOD, which owns the site.

Ian Gallin, joint chief executive of the West Suffolk councils (Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury), said: “Underpinning all of our work is the belief that our local communities and businesses are best placed to help the MOD make the right choices for the future of the RAF Mildenhall site.

“Through the Government’s Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth Working Group, we have been able to press home to the MOD the council’s view that under no circumstances should the site be mothballed.

“The MOD has told us it will make its decision as to whether the base has a military future by September but meanwhile we are taking every opportunity to ensure the views of our communities are heard.”

The council is also gathering information to better understand the expansion of RAF Lakenheath, both its increase in personnel and the F-35s that will be based there.

Forest Heath’s working group will feed back on its progress to both the Lakenheath British-American Committee and the MAM Working Group.

The MALAG meetings will be open to the public and there will also be future public engagement sessions. For updates see www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/usafe.