At the Ipswich Borough Council meeting on 28 July, councillors from all parties expressed their support for the town’s armed forces veterans from the Commonwealth and Nepal.
The Council unanimously agreed a motion supporting these veterans “who have served a minimum of 4 years to be granted, automatically and free of charge, the right to remain in the UK and that any veteran who completes 12 years of service be, upon application, which shall not unreasonably be withheld, given British Citizenship without delay.”
Council officers will also be ensuring no disadvantages are faced by these veterans with Ipswich Borough Council services. This matter will be considered by its Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The motion passed by Council welcomed the Home Secretary’s consultation on this matter and it also agreed that various representations - including from its Leader, Cllr David Ellesmere, and its Chief Executive, Russell Williams - will be made to the government and to the town’s MPs on further changes that should be made.
Says Cllr Alasdair Ross, ward member for Rushmere:
“In 2009, I was fortunate enough to serve in Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, The Rifles. Over 50 men and women in that Battle Group came from the Commonwealth, 35 of those heroes were from Fiji. One of those did not return. Rifleman Toge was killed whilst on patrol in July 2009
“Currently if any of his 34 comrades wished to stay in the UK they have to fill in numerous forms and then pay over £2000 in visa fees. That is not acceptable when these Riflemen have risked their lives in the service of this country.”
Says Cllr Sam Murray, ward member for Castle Hill:
“Commonwealth and Nepalese (Ghurkha) personnel are the backbone of our armed forces. These men and women leave behind family and friends to move across the world to serve in the British Army. The sacrifice they make cannot be underestimated. Immigration and nationality fees are no way to say thank-you for their service and should be scrapped. I am pleased this Council unanimously supports this motion and that we will also be scrutinising our own services to ensure we, in Ipswich, are military-friendly.”