Wiltshire pledges commitment to working together with its Armed Forces at covenant signing
The reaffirmation of the covenant recognises the service of people in the Armed Forces
Wiltshire Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the Armed Forces communities by signing the Wiltshire Council Armed Forces Covenant supported by senior military and civilian leaders.
The reaffirmation of the covenant recognises the service of people in the Armed Forces and commits those signing the covenant to do all they can to ensure Service Personnel are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day to day lives.
Wiltshire Council signed the agreement and committed to work with the military by bringing their knowledge, experience and expertise to provide help and advice to members of the Armed Forces community. Public representatives and businesses supported the signing. The covenant provides benefits to communities and affirms the many advantages that can be gained by supporting the covenant and working with the Armed Forces, by employing reservists, veterans or military families, as well as outlining what services small businesses could offer the military community.
The Wiltshire Council area is home to around a fifth of the British Army. There are currently 19,000 serving personnel across all branches of the Armed Forces, 19,000 dependents and approximately 53,600 veterans in Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council already employs a range of measures in line with the covenant. These include:
- The Wiltshire Council Business Plan has policies for housing, education and other areas so military and their families are not disadvantaged by their employment conditions and military lifestyle
- The Enterprise Network (TEN), a Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP)-wide programme led by Wiltshire Council in partnership with Swindon Borough Council and private partners to encourage start-up enterprises which target the military community as part of the programme
- A dedicated military page on the council's recruitment website for military leavers and families
- Higher Futures programme, which the military community has piloted for learners
- Support for local organisations to successfully apply for more than £2m from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund over several years
- Support to military charities such as SSAFA and the Royal British Legion through engagement with their programmes
- Sharing best practice to other local authorities
- Working collaboratively with partners to ensure the Army Basing Programme and the return of troops from Germany was delivered smoothly
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Military Civilian Integration, signed the document with Colonel Gary McDade, Commander South West alongside Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson, Paul Moorby, Chair of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Darren Langdown, Area Manager for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue.
Cllr Clewer said: "We have a long and proud association with the military in Wiltshire. We recognise the enormous benefits both economic and culturally to having a military presence in this county. This Armed Forces Covenant underlines this important relationship and the mutual benefits of working together. Wiltshire Council already has in place a range of measures to ensure we support our Armed Forces and today was an opportunity to commit again with our partners to ensuring the military that serve this country so well have a welcome and supportive home here in Wiltshire."
Colonel Gary McDade, Commander South West said: "The Armed Forces, and the Army in particular, are part of the fabric of Wiltshire, therefore I'm delighted that Wiltshire Council has re-affirmed its commitment to the Forces community by signing the covenant today. The covenant encourages serving personnel, their families, and veterans to be active members of the local society and there are few counties where the military community is as large or well-established as in Wiltshire. In re-signing the covenant today, Wiltshire Council's commitment is clear, as is their understanding and recognition of the value in supporting our Armed Forces. We are extremely grateful for the council's continued support."
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: "Wiltshire has a rich military history and we are proud to work alongside our colleagues from the Armed Forces. Over the years Wiltshire Police has forged strong relationships with our partners in the military and many of our officers and staff come from a military background. The skills gained from military training and the pride in serving the public means that ex-military personnel are ideally suited to a career within policing - the signing of the military covenant underlines our commitment to supporting people in transitioning from a military career to a policing career. Additionally, in my role as Chair of the Wiltshire Local Resilience Forum I have seen first-hand the invaluable contribution that our military colleagues provide supporting major incidents across our County - building and maintaining strong working relationships with the military is absolutely vital in helping to keep the public safe and protect our communities."
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson said: "This ceremony saw my office, and Wiltshire Police, reaffirm their underlying commitment to the military community.
"Public service, in all its forms, is the cornerstone of our democracy and we should endeavour to support those who have unique circumstances which may adversely affect them as a result of serving their country.
"Both the OPCC and the force work closely with our military partners in Wiltshire but we can always look at different ways to make that partnership more effective.
"Providing, and improving where necessary, that support to military veterans is also a key factor within my police and crime plan - my office will be ensuring there is improved support and additional help for veterans in the criminal justice system. We are also exploring ways in which those with military service can bring those valuable skills learned to Wiltshire's force so we are providing employment opportunities post service too."
New legislation has been bought in nationally to re-invigorate the covenant after 10 years. This applies to a list of public bodies and introduces a new statutory duty to have due regard to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when carrying out specific public functions in the areas of housing, healthcare and education.
Since 2007 the Military Civilian Integration (MCI) Programme has been in place in Wiltshire delivering initiatives under the strategic leadership of the MCI Partnership. The partnership provides the opportunity for Wiltshire Council and partners, including the Armed Forces, to work together proactively to co-ordinate and implement measures which benefit communities.