RAF re­vamp to se­cure fu­ture

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

LONG term re­fur­bish­ment plans for RAF Wit­ter­ing have pro­vided re­as­sur­ance over its fu­ture.

Fears were raised for the fu­ture of the air force base when the Min­istry of De­fence an­nounced cuts last year and the iconic Har­rier jump jet was axed.

But this week plans were sub­mit­ted to Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil seek­ing per­mis­sion to re­fur­bish the of­fi­cers’ mess fol­low­ing com­ple­tion of the se­nior non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers’ mess.

Squadron Leader (Re­tired) Tony Walsh, spokesman for RAF Wit­ter­ing, said: “This is work that has been on the cards for sev­eral years now.

“Each year the De­fence In­fra­struc­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion looks at which projects need to be done.

“They as­sess things like cost, ur­gency and the fu­ture of the base be­fore de­cid­ing where to di­rect re­sources. The 1,400 peo­ple work­ing here on the base knew we were stay­ing but this build­ing work pro­vides ex­tra re­as­sur­ance to the gen­eral pub­lic.”

The base will also be home to a new Army unit from about July 2013 when the Head­quar­ters 12 (Air Sup­port) En­gi­neer Group, party of the army’s Royal En­gi­neers, re­lo­cate from Water­beach, near Cam­bridge.

This will see 44 ser­vice per­son­nel and their fam­i­lies move on to the base.

And ser­vice­men and women at the base, the ma­jor­ity of whom work for the RAF’S lo­gis­tics, are hop­ing there could be more RAF units join­ing them.

The news de­lighted Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cam­bridgeshire, who lob­bied former de­fence sec­re­tary Liam Fox over the base’s fu­ture.

He said: “I have fought very hard for RAF Wit­ter­ing. I had a per­sonal as­sur­ance from the former sec­re­tary of state over the fu­ture of the base and as far as I am con­cerned that pledge still stands.

“I am pleased to see that mea­sures are now be­ing taken to en­sure that this will con­tinue to re­main an oper­a­tional base.”

Ste­wart Jack­son, MP for Peter­bor­ough, re­cently asked about the base in the House of Com­mons and re­ceived an an­swer from min­is­ter of state for de­fence Nick Har­vey.

He wrote: “RAF Wit­ter­ing has a con­tin­ued fu­ture as an RAF sta­tion host­ing a range of units in­clud­ing the RAF’S ex­pe­di­tionary en­gi­neer­ing and lo­gis­tics.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, to max­imise the use of re­sources, Head­quar­ters 12 (Air Sup­port) En­gi­neer Group will re­lo­cate to RAF Wit­ter­ing.”

Mr Jack­son said: “It is re­as­sur­ing to know it will, at least in the short term, re­main an oper­a­tional base, al­beit with­out the iconic Har­ri­ers.”

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