Gosport councillors back plan to sign armed forces covenant

PROUD A high proportion of Gosport residents are members of the armed forces
PROUD A high proportion of Gosport residents are members of the armed forces

‘UK needs to boost its budget for the military’

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COUNCILLORS in Gosport are one step closer to signing their own armed forces covenant.

The pledge is an agreement that the council and other organisations in the town will do their best for servicemen and women and their families.

It is intended to ensure members of the armed forces and their families have easy access to services including education, housing and health.

Given Gosport’s strong links to the armed forces in the past and present, councillors in the town felt it would be a good idea to sign their own covenant.

At a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board on Tuesday night, councillors unanimously agreed to put the idea before the council.

The chairman of the board, Councillor Bob Forder, said: ‘Gosport has always had this history of being a military town.

‘That’s going to continue into the future although perhaps at a slightly smaller level.

‘So the support for the idea of having our own armed forces covenant was unanimous.

‘There was talk about a few particular areas, things like veterans leaving the armed forces all have certain needs which differ from the rest of the population.

‘We need to be sensitive to those if we are going to serve them well.’

Now the committee’s report will go before the full council later this year.

Cllr Forder said he anticipates it will be voted through by councillors.

If approved, it is hoped the covenant would be signed at a ceremony at Ann’s Hill Cemetery on November 11.

The document would be signed on the day by the Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan, the chief executive and mayor of Gosport Borough Council, the chief executive of Gosport Voluntary Action and representatives of the Gosport Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Hampshire County Council has already signed its own covenant, which is supported by the 11 district councils in the county.

But so far none of them have taken the extra step of signing their own agreement.

Signing the covenant will allow Gosport’s council to bid for funds from a central government grant for schemes which will benefit servicemen and women.

The recommendation to sign an armed forces covenant for Gosport will go before the full council on October 3.