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County council leader says RAF Mildenhall closure a “severe blow” to region’s economy

PUBLISHED: 15:26 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:42 09 January 2015

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs at The Forum in Norwich.

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs at The Forum in Norwich.

Archant © 2008

The leader of Norfolk County Council has described the closure of RAF Mildenhall as a “severe blow to the whole East Anglian economy”.

George Nobbs, Labour leader of the council, commented after the Pentagon confirmed this afternoon that the Suffolk base will shut following a two-year review.

• RAF Mildenhall closure: US Defense boss says it can do the same job for less

• Update: RAF Mildenhall to close as Pentagon reveals plans to move assets to Germany

He said: “There is no point pretending that this is anything other than a severe blow to the whole East Anglian economy.

“The local community will try to fill the economic gap over the years because they are resilient, but more than the economic impact this will cut a tie that goes back to the Second World War.”

South West Norfolk MP, Elizabeth Truss also commented on the news, saying she understood residents’ concerns.

“We have a long established relationship with the US military in this region and I know my colleague Matthew Hancock, the MP for Mildenhall, is creating the Mildenhall Working Group to ensure the local community is fully consulted and explore all the future options.

“I do understand that uncertainty can be a concern for residents and businesses, however the local economy is extremely resilient and I will support business, fellow MPs and councils during the transition period,” she said.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said the area would “rise to the challenges” following the news.

He said: “We have enjoyed a strong relationship over the years with the American Air Force and are delighted that this is to continue.

“The USAFE contributes significantly to the local economy so the expansion of RAF Lakenheath, and with it the U.S. Government’s commitment to the site as part of its long term plans, is very welcome news. But this happiness is obviously tempered by our sadness that Mildenhall is to close.

“Both announcements mean huge changes to the landscape of Forest Heath – but I am optimistic that with every change there are opportunities for reinvention, growth and investment.

“We will look to ensure not only that these opportunities are taken, but that any future plans for the bases are the right ones for the people of Forest Heath,” he said.

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