Issue - decisions
Cllr Marrilyn Smart
Cllr Smart read the following statement in support of her motion
'This motion is about an Armed Forces Community Covenant, which is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces community – in this case serving and former members of all 3 services and their families either working or resident in Gloucestershire. It is intended to complement, at a local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces.
The aim of a Community Covenant is to encourage local communities to support the Service Community in their area and promote understanding and awareness amongst the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community. Many people have become involved in supporting the Service Community through Service Charities, or more recently participating in Armed Forces Day. They have shown their support through fund-raising, military celebrations and open days, attending homecoming parades and repatriation ceremonies and offering commercial discounts. The community Covenant scheme aims to build on this local level of support. The overall aim is to end up with a countywide covenant signed by all 3 services, leaders of public sector bodies, representatives from the voluntary sector and the Veterans Advisory and Pension Committee. A formal signing Ceremony took place on Monday 27 February 2012.
As Members will recall there has always been a strong tradition of links between the Forest of Dean District Council and the Gloucestershire Regiment, in which many local people served in both world wars and in peacetime. Whilst lamenting the loss of its County Regiment, which received the Freedom of the District in 1984, this Council warmly welcomed 1 Rifles to their permanent base at Beachley Barracks in 2007, which despite a Chepstow postal address, is very much part of the Forest of Dean.
On the 27 June 2009 this Council provided a public expression of its support for the Battalion by laying on a community event for soldiers, their families and local people after a Freedom Parade in Coleford. Since then members and staff at the District Council have raised money for the Rifles welfare fund charities through a variety of sponsored events and “dress down” days. In addition members and staff have also contributed to welfare parcels for the troops when they were deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011.
Through its annual support for Armed Forces Day the council recognises and applauds the contribution that the entire Armed Forces Community has made to the nation. The Council demonstrates similar support to the Royal British Legion through annual Poppy Day collections and, this year providing the use of some of our premises at no cost for use in support of the Poppy Appeal.
The Council has also actively supported one member of Staff in recently becoming a member of the Royal Navel Reserve and is now working on the production of a policy that supports volunteering, including service in the reserves.
This motion also refers to Report SD 84, which was presented and accepted by Cabinet on the 19 January. It is not a key decision and does not require a full Council decision, but in view of the support we have always given to the Armed Forces and our local battalion 1 Rifles, I felt a motion to Full Council would be appropriate.
There is no cost to giving a commitment to the Covenant. However, as a signatory to a Community Covenant the Council would become eligible to apply for funding from the Ministry of Defence to support projects that would enhance integration of the military and civilian communities.
Mr Chairman, I believe this is a very exciting initiative and I very much hope that it will receive the full support of members tonight'.
Cllr Lawton expressed his pleasure at being able to second the motion, explaining that his son was currently serving with the Royal Navy. He said that the parents and other relatives of servicemen and women were always particularly aware of the need to support those who put themselves on the line for the rest of society.
Cllr Gardiner said that the council had been lucky over the years to have such a dedicated person as Cllr Smart to champion the cause of the armed services. He also believed that the increased donation to the British Legion's Poppy Appeal in 2011 during a period of austerity was a sign of affection from the residents of the district.
Cllr Horne publicised a bingo event being run by the British Legion in the autumn in Newent.
Cllr Molyneux said that the Cabinet had been pleased to agree the covenant. It was important that Full Council showed its total support for the armed forces and in particular 1 Rifles. He added that it had been a pleasure to sign the covenant alongside Cllr Stephens at a ceremony earlier in the week.
Cllr Smart proposed and Cllr Lawton seconded the motion.
Councillors agreed to vote on a show of hands.
RESOLVED - That this Council very much welcomes the agreement between the public sector in Gloucestershire and the Armed Forces that will pave the way for more integration of Armed Forces Personnel in their community and enable funding for community initiatives.