Council offers support over Moray air base job losses (28/10/10)

Highland Councillors have offered practical support and assistance to Moray Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Moray Task Force in their efforts to cope with the impact of significant job losses resulting from the impending closure of RAF Kinloss, and the continuing uncertainty over the future of RAF Lossiemouth.

Convener Sandy Park raised the matter as an emergency item at the full Council meeting in Inverness when he highlighted the huge strain placed on the Moray economy by last week’s announcement of defence cuts by the UK Government.

The MOD’s presence at Kinloss and Lossiemouth made it the most RAF dependent region in the UK, with a total of 5,700 FTE jobs (16% of total employment) which could be at risk and £158m of income. The loss of these jobs would double the claimant count unemployment rate in the area.

 He said: “The closure of RAF Kinloss will account for more than 40% of these job losses and so there is a need for concerted action to tackle the severe consequences which will also spill over into The Highland Council area and Aberdeenshire.”

 The Council heard that initial work had been undertaken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Moray Council and is set out in the report “MOD Rationalisation in Moray – Scotland’s response”. This identified the need for investment in individuals (skills and training), infrastructure (housing, business space, broadband, roads and rail), inward investment (an investor ready region for renewable energy, sustainable technologies, tourism, food and drink and data centres), and identity (the social economy, community development and culture). This plan would undoubtedly be the focus for joint action over the coming months.

 The Highland Council already has a link with Moray Council through Highland Opportunity Ltd and a joint Business Gateway contract. Business Gateway is already liaising with HIE on the provision of additional start-up advice and wider business support.

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