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Call for public to join RAF base threat march

03 November 2010

The public are being urged to turn out in force on Sunday for a march and rally calling for RAF Lossiemouth to be spared the axe in the government's ongoing strategic defence review.

Police estimate that 6,000 people will take part in the march through the streets of Lossiemouth, led by the First Minister and the leaders of the other three main political parties in Scotland.

The procession will begin at Muirton Road - only yards from the main entrance to the RAF base - and end with a rally at Grant Park, the home of Lossiemouth FC.

The air station is home to four Tornado squadrons and is the RAF's biggest fast-jet base.

There are fears that the RAF's entire fleet of Tornado GR4s could be destined for Marham in Norfolk - a move that would almost inevitably lead to the closure of Lossiemouth.

Moray Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and community and businesses organisations have moved quickly to counter the threat to the base with the setting up of a Moray Task Force which has pledged to do everything possible to ensure the station's future.

Sunday's rally will give the public their chance to turn out in numbers to demonstrate their solidarity in fighting for the retention of RAF Lossiemouth.

First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "We intend to make the UK government and the Ministry of Defence sit up and listen to the people of Moray and Scotland.

"It is obvious that the Westminster government must do more to support the most defence dependent community in the UK in its hour of need. This goes far beyond Moray. It is an issue of national importance to Scotland.

"The strength of feeling has been graphically illustrated by the tens of thousands of people who have signed up to the campaign to save the bases."

Mr Salmond continued: "I will be proud to march alongside community and business representatives and the families of our brave servicemen to highlight that a quarter of Scotland's defence footprint and 70 years of history cannot be allowed to disappear.

"I am pleased that the other main party leaders have put differences aside to help make the strongest possible case for Scotland's defence industry and the communities they support."

Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray said: "Over a month ago I called on the First Minister and other party leaders to join with me and trades unions in a cross-party campaign to save the carrier contracts at Rosyth and Scotstoun. We saved them and now we must fight for the people of Moray.

"Let us be quite clear. These are not strategic decisions. They are cuts that will rip the heart out of the whole county. The people of Moray deserve the support and solidarity of the whole of Scotland in fighting for their community."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "Moray has a proud history of welcoming Britain's armed forces to its community and of its people working alongside our UK military personnel. Sadly, given the scale of the deficit, the defence review could not be pain free.

"I fully understand the fears and worries of the people of Moray and I urge our governments to work with the local community and local council to chart a way forward and to identify opportunities.

"Moray is an area of resilience, with skilled and talented people, and we must do everything we can to help them through this challenging period. I have personally contacted both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence and the Scottish Conservatives will continue to make the case for Scotland. It will be an honour to meet with, and march with, the people of Moray on Sunday."

Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "I am delighted to be part of Sunday's rally. So many local jobs and local people's futures depend on RAF Lossiemouth. I want both to listen to local people and show my support by joining the day."

Lossiemouth councillor David Stewart, who has been involved in organising the event, said the event would give people the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and present a united front in calling for the base to be spared.

"Closing the base would affect the lives of thousands of people - ordinary people - and that is a message that can't be repeated often enough," he said.

"The fact that all four Scottish party leaders will be taking part in the march and rally shows just how important RAF Lossiemouth is to Moray and we want the public to join them in sending a loud and clear message to the Ministry of Defence and the UK government that the base must be saved."

Led by a pipe band, the march will set off at 2pm from Muirton Road outside the Moray Coast Medical Centre and proceed along Coulardbank Road, Elgin Road and Moray Street to the football ground.

A number of designated parking areas have been made available and stewards will be on hand to direct those arriving by car.

A free bus service will operate from the Lossie Green car park in Elgin from 1pm, returning after the rally at around 3.45pm.

A supply of placards will be available at the start of the march although marchers will be free to take their own.

The rally at Grant Park will be addressed by the four Scottish party leaders as well as Moray Council convener Councillor George McIntyre, Moray MP Angus Robertson, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, Highlands and Islands Enterprise area manager Calum MacPherson, Moray Trades Union Council chairman Councillor John Divers and Lossiemouth community councillor Carolle Ralph.

The speakers will be introduced by Colin McGregor - brother of actor Ewan - a former Tornado pilot who served at RAF Lossiemouth.

Notes to media:

Please contact Moray Council at the above numbers to discuss TV camera locations and interview bids. Parking allocated for sat trucks close to vantage points

For further comment from members of the Moray task force contact any of the following:

  • Cllr George McIntyre on 07812 969126
  • Cllr David Stewart on 07779 999278
  • Colin McGregor on 07968 258414
  • Lesley Ann Parker, Moray Chamber of Commerce, on 07887 846495
  • Eileen Bush, Voluntary Action Moray, on 07793 220415
  • alternatively, email the task force at

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