Letter to council leader Stephen Alambritis
As you will hopefully be aware, Merton has a strong record of supporting our Armed Forces locally. In 2009 under our previous administration the borough started marking Armed Forces Day with an annual flag raising ceremony. We are of course pleased that this practice has been continued.
More recently, recognising that many service personnel struggle to find housing on leaving the Armed Forces, the Council adopted a revised Housing Register and Nominations Policy. This was the result of a successful Conservative motion last year which called for reasonable preference to be given to former members of the Armed Forces with a connection to the borough in obtaining Merton housing.
There are few other professions where you can be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and we believe it is important for the borough to demonstrate our continuing gratitude to the Armed Forces for their devoted service to this country.
We are therefore disappointed that Merton is still yet to sign up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant. We understand that so far 14 other London boroughs, including Croydon, Richmond, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham, have signed the Covenant but unfortunately Merton is not one of them.
As you may know, the Armed Forces Community Covenant was launched by the Coalition Government in June last year and is a voluntary statement of mutual support between civilian and Armed Forces communities. It aims to encourage respect and support for service personnel and their families, as well as reservists, veterans and cadet groups plus understanding and awareness of issues affecting the Armed Forces community. On a practical front it aims to encourage activities to help integrate the Armed Forces community into local life and provide access to public services.
In your capacity as Leader of the Council, we would therefore call on you to remedy this situation as a matter of urgency by making arrangements for the borough to sign up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant. We would also support an official ceremony to mark the signing of this Covenant presided over by the Mayor of Merton as First Citizen of this borough, and held in conjunction with local organisations representing the Armed Forces community here in Merton and senior representatives of the three Armed Services, as has happened elsewhere.
We very much hope for your positive response on this and look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Councillor Debbie Shears
Leader Conservative Group Councillor Samantha George
Leisure and Culture Spokesman, Merton
CC Ged Curran, Chief Executive, LB Merton
Cllr David Williams, Mayor of Merton
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August 14, 2012