BOSSES at a threatened RAF base want to announce the fate of the station on a social networking site.
RAF Lossiemouth aims to set up a dedicated Facebook page with the intention of communicating
“accurate and updated’ information about the future of the at risk base.
The plan is revealed in a leaked confidential email, which shows the extraordinary level of planning into the day of the announcement.
Even essential flying will be cancelled while personnel are briefed.
Vital staff, including air traffic controllers, will be taken away from their posts to a meeting in the station’s Hangar 1.
And strict rules on where ranks are allowed to socialise will be relaxed if the station receives bad news.
Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars are under-threat due to defence cuts.
The highly detailed brief on the preparations for the day of the announcement was written by Station Commander Andy Hine. Speaking of the proposed use of the social networking site, he said:
“The popularity of social media makes it a good channel to inform people of the basing decision. Permission has been given to set up a station Facebook page, which can also be used to communicate accurate and up-to-date information. “
Stn Cdr Hine said the plan covered preparations needed for the day of the announcement and the immediate days afterwards. He said staff would be called to Hangar 1 to hear the news.
“If the station is to close it is likely that a senior RAF officer, and possibly a senior civil servant, will visit the station in order to brief personnel,’ he added.
He said flying programmes would be cancelled in time to enable all personnel to attend.
All staff providing
“essential’ support to the station, including air traffic control, medical and fire crews, would attend the brief, although one person would remain to man the switchboard for emergency calls.
He said that if the outcome was
“negative’ staff would not simply be dismissed from the announcement to return to duty. Personnel could be briefed further by their squadron and wing commanders, he said.
“The junior rank’s club will be available to all ranks on the announcement day as a social facility,’ he added.
A second briefing would be given on the Saturday of the same week to families of personnel at the Children Centre in Elgin, according to the document.
However, Stn Cdr Hine said the plans were no indication the base was to be closed.
“This document is the product of prudent planning; it is not any indication that
“bad news’ is due to the station. The chain of command must therefore ensure that all personnel understand the rationale of preparing for an announcement, and to regard this preparation as nothing more sinister. “
Meanwhile it has been reported last week that a top-level meeting of service chiefs, senior civil servants and ministers chaired by Defence Secretary Liam Fox would consider a report on the future of the UK’s bases.
It was claimed the report, said to be drawn up by civil servants, agreed with the recommendations made by the RAF and the army that Lossiemouth should remain as an RAF base but Leuchars should become the new home for troops returning from Germany.
According to sources the meeting was set to be “decisive”.
But North East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell said he had been assured that no decision was imminent.