Chancellor Rishi Sunak disappointed as hope of Red Arrows moving to North Yorkshire base goes up in smoke

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has joined leading figures in expressing disappointment as their hopes of the Red Arrows moving home to a North Yorkshire base were dashed.

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 7:00 am

The Government has announced that the display team’s home would remain in Lincolnshire, with the team moving from RAF Scampton to RAF Waddington.

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak, who spearheaded a campaign to bring the elite group to RAF Leeming, near Bedale, before taking the senior cabinet position, had said the squadron – made up of pilots, engineers and support staff – would be an “ideal fit” for North Yorkshire.

His call had been supported by the base’s former commander Air Vice Marshal Phil Roser, who headed up the base during its time hosting air defence Tornado F3s in the 1990s.

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The Red Arrows over York Minster.

Mr Sunak launched the campaign to bring the Red Arrows to Yorkshire following a decision announced in 2018 to close their current home, RAF Scampton.

He wrote to Ministry of Defence chiefs making the case for RAF Leeming.

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After it was revealed a safety assessment deemed RAF Waddington to be the best possible home for the Red Arrows, Mr Sunak said: “I know the idea of having the Red Arrows display team based at RAF Leeming captured the imagination of many local people so this is disappointing news.

Rishi Sunak.

“But the new base selection process has been exhaustive and thorough and I know RAF Leeming’s case was considered fully in that process.

“I wish the display team – the pride of the RAF – well when they move to RAF Waddington in 2022.”

Councillor John Forrest, who has stepped down as mayor of Northallerton after six years, said he believed the resurgence of the Tees Valley Airport had played a key role in the decision not to relocate the display team to North Yorkshire.

He said: “A lot of people will be very disappointed as it would have been great to have the Red Arrows just up the road, but safety has to come first.”

North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said RAF Leeming had been well developed as a fast jet base in the 1980s and would have been a perfect home for the Red Arrows.

He said: “We would have welcomed them with open arms in the community and it would have been a further feather in the cap of an RAF base which is one the premier bases in the country.”