Authorities dig in to support Fusiliers’ cause
MOVES to try to save a military unit with close links to Warwickshire from being disbanded have received cross-party support at both district and county levels.
Warwickshire County Council agreed yesterday to do everything in its power to persuade Parliament not to axe the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
And at a meeting of Warwick District Council last night all but three councillors voted in favour of vice chairman Cllr Richard Davies’ motion for the authority to call upon the government to reconsider its plan.
In an impassioned speech to members, Cllr Davis, (Con, Kenilworth St John’s) said: “I bring this motion simply because I have a sense of fair play and that sense is outraged by what is beginning to happen to this regiment.
“Our armed Forces have a long and glorious history of bravery, complete obedience and for putting service before self.
“Our Governments have a long and ignoble history of treating our armed forces shamefully and of relying on the code of silence , the vows of obedience that prevent our armed forces from defending themselves from their most deadly enemy - politicians and civil servants.”
Veterans, including those who had served with the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers which was absorbed in 1968 to make up the four-battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, attended the meeting and applauded Cllr Davies from the public gallery.
Cllr George Illingworth (Con, Kenilworth Abbey), who served in the Territorial Army for 36 years, seconded the motion and described how as a youngster he was given the regimental badge of the Warwickshire Fusiliers by his father during the Second World War.
He raised concerns that 15,000 territorial army reserves could replace 20,000 regular soldiers and said an alternative to this solution must be offered.
Cllr Illingworth said: “If we’ve got to cut to save costs then we need to consider regeneration if a threat increases because if we need more soldiers, more infantry, how do we do it?
“It’s much easier to build a small unit than to form a new one and I have been speaking to some military colleagues, including the regimental colonel of the Fusiliers, and I was delighted to hear that it is already being argued in military circles because the logic is in order to save them they are reducing the strength of the Scottish battalions to 450 men while keeping the English battalions of 550. The argument goes that if you can reduce the Scottish battalions to 450 why can’t you reduce the English battalions to 450?
“If you did that there would be no reason to cut any of the battalions at all and everyone would be treated equally.”
Cllr June Tandy, leader of the Labour Group, forwarded a proposal at the meeting of Warwickshire County Council yesterday to oppose the decision to scrap the battalion which would affect recruitment in Warwickshire and, in the words of Brigadier David Paterson, could “undermine the army and threaten future military operations”.
Cllr Tandy’s comments were echoed by Cllr Alan Farnell, the county council’s leader, who pledged to write to John Baron MP, the leading backbencher in the October 18 debate to which Warwickshire’s MPs have already signed up, to take up the Fusiliers’ cause.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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