Army will be arriving at RAF Cottesmore next summer

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SOLDIERS will start to move into RAF Cottesmore in eight months time – one year earlier than expected.

SOLDIERS will start to move into RAF Cottesmore in eight months time – one year earlier than expected.

Troops from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment will transfer to the base from Cyprus in July.

The Ministry of Defence has also confirmed the move of 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps from Bielefeld, Germany, to Cottesmore in summer 2013.

In total more than 1,000 soldiers and their families will move into the county in the next two years.

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “It’s extremely good news for Rutland that the Army will be here sooner rather than later.

“It means our local shops and services will not feel the impact on trade for as long as they first thought.

“The arrival of the Army is the start of a new chapter for Cottesmore and I’m sure the local community is looking forward to welcoming the new residents.”

It was announced in July that the RAF base, which is currently being used as a satellite of RAF Wittering, would close in March next year and will be occupied by the Army in 2014.

But yesterday the Defence Infrastructure Organisation announced that the base would be occupied by the Army from July next year.

About 620 soldiers and their families will move to the base in 2012, with a further 450 the year after.

RAF Wittering spokesman Sqn Ldr (Retd) Tony Walsh said: “This has been a very unsettling time for all concerned in the local area and it is great news that, with the final withdrawal of the RAF by March 31 next year, it will only be a few months before the base begins to build up again.

“Compared to RAF Cottesmore prior to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, there will be only slightly fewer service personnel stationed there once both moves have been completed. This will be especially good news for local businesses and the local school.”

Rutland County Council is making the arrival of the Army a corporate priority.

Chief executive Helen Briggs said: “It’s important we are fully prepared for the arrival of the Army in 2012.

“Rutland as a county has been home to the RAF since 1938 and while life will probably not be that much different when the Army arrive, it’s important we are aware of the little things that will make life easier for our new residents and for those already living in Rutland.”

Fears about the economy in the county have been eased and Oakham mayor Joyce Lucas, of Lonsdale Way, Oakham, says she will welcome the Army with open arms.

She added: “This is brilliant news.I would rather they kept the base open and did not mothball it.

“It will help the economy and the High Street.”

A group of officers from Rutland County Council went to the Army barracks at Catterick in Yorkshire on a one-day fact-finding mission last week.

Deputy leader of the council Terry King (Con), who lives in Cottesmore, said: “We’ll continue working closely with the Ministry of Defence to make sure we can do everything possible to make sure the transition runs smoothly.

“We are also thinking about the support we can offer as a council to the civilian staff still at the base and also the new personnel and families arriving in the county.”

Rutland MP Alan Duncan said: “It is good news that the Army is coming to Cottesmore.

“Seeing the details confirmed like this is very reassuring.

“Rutland will get ready to welcome them warmly when they arrive.”

The headquarter elements of 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group based at Waterbeach Barracks in Cambridgeshire will move to RAF Wittering in summer 2013.

No decision has been made about more troops moving from Germany to St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham.