Meetings next month to discuss impact of RAF Mildenhall closure

RAF Mildenhall from above:

RAF Mildenhall from above: PICTURE: ANDY ABBOTT

A series of meetings will be launched next month to discuss the impact of the closure of RAF Mildenhall.

Forest Heath District Council is hosting the meetings which will explore the knock-on effects for local businesses, jobs, the housing market and local communities.

This week defence minister Philip Dunne hinted the base could still have a military use.

Those who will be invited to attend the meetings include resident representatives, businesses, community groups and partners such as Suffolk County Council.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “While we are all saddened by the closure announcement, we all need to work together to ensure Mildenhall and the surrounding area emerges stronger from this.

“We want to hear from businesses as to how they will be affected, and what can be done to mitigate that impact. We want to hear from our residents as to how they view this opportunity and what they would like to see happen with the land at RAF Mildenhall. It is vital that we involve our communities in achieving the best possible outcome for themselves.

“I will then be taking the feedback that we receive at these meetings to the Government’s Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth Working Group, which is to be chaired by our West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock.”

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Angela Lynch, of Beatrice Carter estate agents in Mildenhall, who specialise in letting to the US Air Force market, said: “We are being very positive about the closure, but we are sad to see RAF Mildenhall go.

“We will miss all of our tenants from the base, many of who we have become friends with over the years.

“We are looking forward to the stationing of the F-35 jets [at RAF Lakenheath] and the support staff that will hopefully come with that.

“We never know how much of our business is coming from which base, so we can’t tell how much business may go.”

Mr Waters said he was aware the MOD is looking into whether the Mildenhall site could have a future military use, but added: “While I would want and expect that decision within the next six months, we are not prepared to sit on our hands and wait, and risk seeing the site eventually mothballed. With that in mind, we are getting on with the task at hand and will be fixing the dates and venues for these public meetings within the next couple of weeks.”

He said the council would work to ensure Mildenhall continues to thrive long after the base closes.