Joint force fights to save battalion
11:10am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News
ALL 10 of Greater Manchester’s authorities have joined forces in the fight to help save the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers from the axe.
The councils, which make up the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), have united in a call for the Government to rethink its plan to disband one of the country’s most renowned and historic infantry battalions.
Hard copies of a petition opposing the move will be placed in each town hall or civic centre for the public to sign Their support came days after a Bury Council motion calling for the plans to be reversed received unanimous, all-party approval.
The extraordinary meeting — held last Wednesday night — began with a poignant one minute’s silence as a mark of respect to past and present Fusiliers and to those who gave their lives in the service of their country.
The 2nd Battalion RRF, an armoured infantry regiment of 600 soldiers, is under threat of being disbanded as part of proposed Government Armed Forces expenditure cuts.
Council leader Cllr Mike Connolly is to write to his counterparts as well as MPs throughout the North West, seeking their backing.
The authority’s website hosts a link to a Government e-petition supporting the campaign to save the battalion - as does the Bury Times website.
And council-owned buildings will make available hard copy petitions for people to sign.
Bury Council also vowed to join forces with local papers, including the Bury Times Group, to co-ordinate responses to the e-petition.
The motion states that the Fusiliers Regiment and their wider families play “an important role in the community and day-to-day life of the borough. The Fusiliers are Freemen of the Borough and the regiment is an integral part of our history, with troops and their families making a great sacrifice throughout the generations.”
It continues: “They have defended us and it is right that we support them now in their hour of need. The only way that the Government will reconsider this decision is if 100,000 signatures are secured on the Government’s e-petition website. The council will use every means at its disposal to prevail upon the Government to reverse this proposal.”
Moving the motion, Cllr Connolly said: “What, I ask, is to be their legacy? What do we write on the 2nd Battalion’s epitaph; they were expendable; they were made redundant ; they were not needed or, worst of all, they were victims of the bankers’ excesses?
“We need to ensure the campaign has a wide audience, can galvanise support across the North West, it activates our MPs, is co-ordinated with the national campaign and, above all, to show leadership at this crucial time. It’s a time to stand up and be counted.
“This is not rest in peace for the 2nd Battalion, this is resist and protest and we are at the start of a long and determined campaign to gather support to get Government to think again and get this awful decision reversed.”
Deputy leader of the council’s Conservative group, Cllr Michelle Wiseman commented: “We will continue to play our part with all concerned to try to get the decision to disband the 2nd Battalion reversed. There are times when this council simply has to pull together for the benefit of the community and day-to-day life of our borough. It is imperative on us all to do what we can to save the 2nd Battalion of the RRF.”
Lib Dem group leader Cllr Tim Pickstone said: “I am very happy to support this. And I look forward to seeing a successful campaign.”
At the latest AGMA executive meeting, members agreed to back the campaign.
Lord Peter Smith, AGMA chairman, said: “Each of the Greater Manchester authorities have unified once again to urge the Government to reconsider the decision to disband the Second Fusiliers.”
l To access the e-petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/ 35724