Local working group to keep focus on Mildenhall and Lakenheath future

30 Mar 2015

A new local working group is set to take forward a work programme, led by Forest Heath District Council, to tackle the challenges presented by the RAF Mildenhall closure and RAF Lakenheath expansion.

The council is setting up the Mildenhall and Lakenheath Airbases Group (MALAG) which will bring together representatives of the district council, Suffolk County Council, Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The group will follow up on the work from three engagement sessions held by Forest Heath to look at the impact of the Mildenhall closure on local communities, jobs and housing – the district council’s three strategic priorities. Lots of ideas for future uses of the RAF Mildenhall site were discussed at the engagement sessions and the working group will evaluate these ideas before presenting them to the Ministry of Defence, 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 that 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 so it can gain a better understanding on the implications of the RAF Lakenheath expansion, both in terms of the new 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 as this work progresses with regular updates on the website: www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/usafe

Mr Gallin added: “All of this is to ensure we have the best possible outcome for the residents and businesses of West Suffolk in terms of jobs growth, strong communities and sufficient housing to meet local demand.”

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