RAF Mildenhall: Air base closure will have ‘big impact’ on Bury St Edmunds economy


- Credit: Archant

The news of RAF Mildenhall’s reported closure has led to concerns about the “big impact” it will have on Bury St Edmunds.

Business owners in the town have claimed the “sad” and “disappointing” news will see the economy suffer.

St Edmundsbury Borough councillor Paul Hopfensperger is an honorary commander of the 100th Air Refuelling Wing at the base and owns a health shop in the town.

He said: “It is a very sad. I don’t think everyone has realised just how big this news is yet.

“It will have a big impact on the town. It will have an impact on everywhere within a 20 mile radius.

“Many people don’t realise that we have a lot of them (US personnel) living in Bury itself.

“Businesses will suffer, especially restaurant business. I have a lot of clients from the base who want clinical massage, so it will effect my business as well. It is very disappointing news.”

Mr Hopfensperger, who is the representative for the St Olaves ward, continued: “I have been an honorary commander since 2010. It is part of the role to welcome servicemen to the area.

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“They will be very sadly missed when they are gone. It is part of the history of the area.

“The refuelling wing goes back to the 1940s, with the Bloody Hundreth bomb squadron.”

Mark Cordell is the chairman of the Bury Improvement District (BID), called OurBuryStEdmunds.

He told the EADT: “This is obviously disappointing for the communities of west Suffolk and especially local businesses.

“In Bury St Edmunds we have a large number of USAF personnel and families visit regularly, therefore there custom will be a loss for the town.

“Having said that, it is only approximately a third of all current USAF personnel and is going to happen over a five year period, which should give local businesses sufficient time to find more customers to replace those who will be leaving.

“The BID will continue to do all they can to attract their staff to Bury.”