Double blow as RAF base and jail close

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THE local economy has suffered a double blow with the loss of two major employers in neighbouring Rutland.

Ashwell Prison, which was badly damaged in a riot two years ago, has now been shut and on the day it closed RAF Cottesmore held farewell parades in the village from which it takes its name and in Oakham.

The base has lost its station status and will operate as a satellite of RAF Wittering until it closes in March 2012.

It is unclear what will happen to either major employment site.

Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan said: “The jobs lost are a blow to Rutland.

“The base and the squadrons stationed at RAF Cottesmore were part of the county’s identity and it is a wrenching loss to the county and its people.”

“We hope the base will retain a defence purpose but if not the economic blow has been so severe it is essential we think of jobs rather than houses.”

Suggestions for its use include an Army base, a business park and an airport.