US Independence Day event cancelled over budget cuts

Independence Day celebrations at RAF Feltwell The USAF said the Independence Day event had been cancelled "as a matter of fiscal responsibility"

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The US Air Force has cancelled its annual Independence Day celebrations at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk because of budget cuts.

The 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, said it had called off the 4 July gathering "as a matter of fiscal responsibility".

The event, featuring fireworks and fairground rides, has been open to local people since the 1960s.

The USAF said it remained committed to the local community.

"The 4th of July is a day we enjoy sharing with our friends in the local area, however, we had to make the tough decision to cancel this year's event," it said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, the 48th Fighter Wing remains a committed partner in the East Anglia community.

"Budget curtailments are expected to persist through 30 September, at which point wing leadership will re-evaluate based on the next fiscal year budget."

Men in deckchairs at 4 July event It was a "tough decision" to cancel the event, the USAF said

The celebrations have also featured flying displays from USAF F-15 jets and the RAF's Red Arrows, along with entertainment including dance displays.

Last week it was revealed that aircraft would be grounded and fewer flights made from RAF Lakenheath due to cuts in American defence spending.

About 75 F-15s are based at RAF Lakenheath and currently fly for a total of 20,000 hours a year.

The USAF's budget for the fiscal year ending in October is being reduced by $591m (£386m).

'Disciplined as possible'

A 48th Fighter Wing spokesman said: "The Fourth of July celebration cost the wing approximately $70,000 (£45,000) last year

"Because of the budget cuts, we must endeavour to be as disciplined as possible with our resources.

"We remain absolutely committed to maintaining our great relationship with the local community.

"The Fourth of July is only one of the many avenues we have available to strengthen our bonds."

Ian Smith, vice-chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council, said it was disappointing the celebrations had been cancelled.

"I know local families make friends with American families and like to go along.

"I don't think it will affect cordial relationships, it's just another thing that governments can't afford to do any more."

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