Staffordshire’s council leaders have joined together to reaffirm their commitment to the county’s Armed Forces community and to encourage other organisations to pledge their support.
Leader of Staffordshire County Council, Alan White, along with other council leaders, together with the military, met in Stafford to re-sign the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring those who serve/have served and their families, are treated fairly ensuring all members of the Armed Forces community have the same access to public and commercial services as any other citizen does.
The declaration builds upon already strong relationships between partners to ensure the principles of the Covenant are upheld locally.
“We hope the re-signing will encourage other organisations across the County to pledge their support”
Speaking at the event, Alan White said: “As a former serving member of the armed forces, I know how important it is that the community is well supported and recognised as a valued part of Staffordshire’s communities.
“We continue to work with our partners to support our armed forces community, to help explain what they do, the significant role they play, and to recognise the valuable skills and experience they bring to Staffordshire. This benefits not only local businesses and communities but allows them to enjoy full and rewarding careers and lives in our great county.
“We hope the re-signing will encourage other organisations across the County to pledge their support.”
Philip Sinclair, the Ministry of Defence’s Regional Employer Engagement Director for the West Midlands said: “It was an absolute pleasure to have worked closely with Staffordshire County Council to support this significant event.
“This now sees all nine local authorities in the region with an Armed Forces Covenant registered and visible in the public domain. Defence is very appreciative of the support that our local authorities lend to the Armed Forces community, both as employers and as providers of services accessed by the community.
“This initiative taken by the Leader’s Board underpins that supportive behaviour and I look forward to working alongside each authority in fostering a strong partnering relationship, and to help them to encourage other organisations across the county to pledge their support. My thanks as well to the exemplar leadership taken by Councillor Alan White and the Armed Forces Covenant team at Staffordshire County Council that illustrates their continued advocacy for the covenant, and the community it seeks to support.”
Leader of South Staffordshire Council, Councillor Roger Lees, said: “The men and women of all our armed forces do a tremendous job and we are proud to support this covenant, working with partners to support whenever we are able.”
Simon Tagg, Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The Borough and many of its residents have a long connection with the military and it’s right and fitting that we support those who have served their country, often in the most difficult circumstances.”
Welcoming the re-signing, Cannock Chase Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “We would echo the progress made since 2012 and are fully behind re-affirming the covenant. This builds on our own appointment of a new Armed Forces Champion last March – Councillor Martyn Buttery, our work with a local veterans group, and the support we give to the armed forces community including offering concessions at our leisure centers.”
The Leader of Lichfield District Council, Councillor Doug Pullen, said: “I am honoured to re-sign the Armed Forces Covenant today. It is a commitment to ensuring members, past and present, are supported in Staffordshire and recognises the vital contribution they make to our society.
“Lichfield has a proud association with the Armed Forces stretching back more than 300 years and it continues to this day. We will do whatever we can to support and celebrate them in the district.”
Leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, George Allen, said: “East Staffordshire Borough Council is committed to ensuring those in local Armed Forces communities are treated fairly and are provided with the support they need.
“As a former member of HM Armed Forces I was delighted to reaffirm our commitment to the Covenant and I would encourage organisations across the Borough, and the wider County, to support the Armed Forces community in any way they can.”
Councillor Paul Roberts, Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “Our armed forces offer selfless service to our nation and it is only right that we show them how much we value their contribution. They enrich our communities and I’m delighted that we have again today shown that we in Staffordshire are committed to ensuring they and their families can enjoy fulfilling lives in our county.”
Patrick Farrington, Leader of Stafford Borough Council said: “We have a long and proud tradition of support and affection for our armed forces personnel, and this is very well illustrated when regiments exercise the Freedom of the Borough, granted to them by the council, and local people and families come out in great numbers to watch and applaud our servicemen and women.
“So, I welcome this opportunity to reaffirm our pledge to support our armed forces community and encourage partners, businesses, and other organisations within the borough to do the same while never forgetting the sacrifices our brave servicemen and women have made throughout history to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today.”
Staffordshire has large bases in Stafford and Lichfield, along with many veterans, reservists, cadets, and armed forces families across the county. According to the 2021 Census, 30,758 Staffordshire residents reported previously serving in the UK armed forces, 4.2% of the local population.
This is above the average for both England and the West Midlands. The Staffordshire Armed Forces Covenant was signed In Stafford on Thursday 16 February 2023.