The first meeting of a Government action group aimed at countering the impact from the closure of three American airbases has been held at the Forest Heath District Council (FHDC) office in Mildenhall.
Councillor James Waters, leader of FHDC, was among the political leaders that attended the first meeting of the Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth (MAM) Working Group, chaired by Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk MP and Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills today (Friday).
“It was a very positive first meeting. While none of us wanted to see the RAF Mildenhall base close, there is a firm commitment to work together, to tackle any impact that the closure may have on jobs and our local economy to ensure that Mildenhall emerges stronger from this,” said Cllr Waters.
“The meeting also gave me the chance to reiterate our message to the MoD, which owns the site, that we cannot and will not let the grass grow under our feet.
“The MoD is considering the future use for the base and I will continue to push for a clear steer from the MoD within the next three months.
“Clearly there is lots of detailed work still to be done, but we have a commitment that this will be driven locally. I am pleased that we have support of our local and national partners and I look forward to progressing this to the next MAM meeting.”
At the same time FHDC is now able to announce the dates for a series of meetings it will hold over the coming weeks.
Representatives from residents’ groups, town and parish councils, businesses and other partners including Suffolk County Council will be invited to have their say at the meetings.
The first of these takes place on Thursday, February 26, and will assess the impact of the closure of RAF Mildenhall on housing.
The focus will be on the local communities at a second meeting on Monday, March 9.
Finally, a meeting on Wednesday, March 11, will look at the impact of the closure on the economy, businesses and jobs.
The outcome of all of these discussions will then be presented to a future meeting of the MAM working group.
“Our focus as a council, long before the closure was announced, is promoting jobs growth, housing supply to meet demand, and encouraging a strong sense of community across the district. That hasn’t changed,” added Cllr Waters.
“The meetings will be a chance for businesses to tell us how they will be affected and for us to discuss how that impact can be softened.
“I also want to hear from our residents’ groups as to what they think should happen with the land at RAF Mildenhall. With every challenge and change comes opportunity, and this is an opportunity for our communities, working together with the council and our partners, to help achieve the best possible outcome for the district and for themselves.”