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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 17:57 GMT
RAF Coltishall to close...
Deborah McGurran
The Politics Show East

World War Two flying ace, Douglas Bader
What would have Douglas Bader said..?

The gates to RAF Coltishall in Norfolk will be locked for the last time at the end of November 2006.

The former Battle of Britain airbase appears to have fallen foul of armed forces cost cutting.

The future of Coltishall was put in doubt following the decision to lose all the RAF's remaining Jaguar squadrons, as it's their home.

RAF Coltishall has a long and illustrious history.

It started life as a Battle of Britain fighter base and legendary pilots such as Douglas Bader, Bob Stanford-Tuck and John "Cats Eyes" Cunningham have served there.

It has been home since to some of the nation's finest aircraft: the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito, Beaufighter, Vampire, Venom, Javelin, Hawker Hunter, the Lightning and, in the modern era, the Jaguar.

RAF Coltishall was originally designated a bomber base.

RAF Jaguar Display Team
The RAF Coltishall community is close-knit

It is one of the last Battle of Britain stations to be still operational with a fighter role.

By the end of 2006, 750 acres of rural Norfolk will be up for sale.

The question is who will buy it, what will they use it for and what impact will future developments have on the area?

North Norfolk Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb says: "The treasury rules require the MOD simply to get the best possible price... rather than necessarily looking at the communities interests and the economic interests of Norfolk.

"I hope we will end up with a position where every effort is made to ensure we get a purchaser that will make the very most of this site."

Norman Lamb MP
"Treasury rules require the MOD simply to get the best possible price" - Norman Lamb

With potential buyers looking around the site this week, there are fears the government will ignore what is best for the local community and sell this valuable asset to the highest bidder.

The base and its 1,600 occupants have all but gone.

A task force has been set up to look at the possibilities but its rural location and poor access are potential problems.

The shops and community centre will be auctioned off next year and the base's primary school has become a pupil referral unit.

The former Ministry of Defence chapel is being bought by the Anglican Church and the first phase of housing should be on the market by April.

All bids for the site need to be in by the end of Jan.

RAF Coltishall - history
1945 RAF Coltishall was handed over to the Polish Air Force and became RAF Coltishall (polish)
1946 handed back to RAF Fighter Command
1957 a contract was let to extend the runway and to strengthen both the runway and taxiways
1958 saw extensive alterations to the station in preparation for the arrival of the Air Fighter Development Squadron
1960 No 74 Squadron became the first operational Lightning equipped RAF squadron
1963 became the home to the Historic Aircraft Flight which became the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (relocated to Lincolnshire 1976)
1974 the first Jaguar squadron arrived
1990 during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the Jaguar was the backbone of the RAF Ground Attack Force

They will then be scrutinised and shortlisted by the MOD and district council.

It is hoped contracts will be exchanged by February with completion a month later.

The MOD wants to get the best price for the taxpayer but residents of Coltishall are worried about what is best for them.

We explore whole question on the Politics Show.

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