YORK’S political chiefs are being urged to fight for a threatened air base’s future and stave off a massive blow to the city’s economic health.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is deciding whether to close RAF Linton-on-Ouse — where military pilots currently start their training – as it plans to make swingeing cuts which could mean 10,000 people across the UK losing their jobs.

It may also shut down a second North Yorkshire facility – RAF Leeming – and switch its entire jet training operation to RAF Valley in Anglesey.

Now York councillor Sian Wiseman, whose Strensall ward is home to many Linton-on-Ouse staff, is calling on City of York Council chief executive Kersten England to drive home the base’s case for survival to the MoD as 700 jobs there face being axed.

The cost to the North Yorkshire economy of mothballing Linton has been estimated at about £25 million, and Coun Wiseman’s request for the council to add its voice to the appeals to keep it open – which will be tabled at a meeting of the authority on Thursday – comes after Vale of York MP Anne McIntosh said she would lobby the Government to save it.

“The effects of the closure of RAF Linton-on-Ouse on York would be significant,” said Coun Wiseman.

“We are not saying that we want any other RAF base elsewhere in the country to close, but it is simply that we feel the base brings in millions of pounds to the local economy and employs many people in the area.

“We need to show a united front, especially when we have other military facilities in the York area as well as Linton and it seems that a lot of defence reorganisation is being planned.

“I believe it is important for the council to write to the MoD and see if we can enter into talks as early in the consultation process as possible.

“RAF Linton-on-Ouse is extremely important to York’s economy, so we should fight for it.”

The base, which is home to 500 military personnel and 600 civilian staff and was the scene of Prince William’s initial flight training last year, has enjoyed multi-million-pound investment in recent years, including a new air-traffic-control tower which is nearing completion and state-of-the-art staff accommodation.

Any threat to Linton – whose future is set to be decided in January – would also have a knock-on effect for RAFs Topcliffe, Dishforth and Church Fenton, as it runs their air-traffic-control operation.