Put armed forces personnel and veterans at the heart of public services


Above: Lord Peter Smith

Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities have signed a major agreement pledging to put armed forces personnel and veterans at the heart of public services. The Greater Manchester region’s leaders of all political persuasions have signed the country’s first armed forces community covenant for a combined authority.

The community covenant will place troops and veterans at the centre of public services in Greater Manchester by making sure service history is known to all relevant agencies. Service veterans will be offered better support in terms of health and housing.

The Leaders of the ten councils were joined by the Lord and Vice Lieutenants of Greater Manchester, representatives from armed forces charities and senior armed forces representatives including Lieutenant Colonel Lindsey Forbes, the Greater Manchester Garrison Commander.

Wigan Council Leader and chairman of the Manchester combined authority, Lord Peter Smith (pictured below), said: “As a combined authority we are as one in our unwavering support of our armed forces personnel and veterans.

“It is only right that we sign our commitment not to forget the sacrifice our armed forces and their families have made but, instead, to fully recognise that sacrifice.

“The signing of the Community Covenant takes the individual work of each authority to the next level. Our aim is to continue to make a real difference to our Greater Manchester armed forces. We will not stop until we make that difference.”

Local Authority officers are understood to be working on a ‘veterans’ village’ concept for the Greater Manchester region.

Sefton Council have also recently re-stated their commitment to veterans following debate of a motion put forward by Southport Lib Dem Councillor Sue McGuire.

Bootle Labour councillor Bobby Brennan was attacked for attempting to politicise a genuine expression of concern which was supported across all parties. He delivered a long rant of a speech attacking the coalition government for making defence cuts which was nothing to do with the subject of Councillor McGuire’s motion.

ots-cllr ian brodie browne southport ots onthespot ots otsnews.co.uk_0Above: Birkdale Councillor Iain Brodie Brown

Birkdale Councillor Iain Brodie Brown pointed out that the national Labour leadership was committed to making defence cuts and Labour had made the cost of recovering from their own mismanagement of the bankers far worse through the multi-billion pound cost of the Iraq war. This had also contributed to the number of veterans who have been severely disabled and those suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. Labour also insisted on squandering many billions of pounds of money on the Trident programme rather than spending on armed forces.

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