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Agenda item

Notice of Motion Regarding "Doing More For The Armed Forces Community" - Given By Councillor Lewis Chinchen and To Be Seconded By Councillor Penny Baker

That this Council:-

 

(a)      thanks all members of the Armed Forces Community (AFC) who have sacrificed so much for the benefit of the nation;

 

(b)      understands that there is a moral duty on the Administration, and indeed on all Councillors, to do more to support members of the AFC;

 

(c)      notes the challenges which the AFC (including those who serve as a regular or reservist, veterans and family members of those who serve and have served) face in a range of areas such as housing, employment, finance, skills and health;

 

(d)      recognises the opportunities from an economic and social perspective of more seamlessly integrating veterans back into civilian life and improving support for all members of the AFC who may be facing a range of challenges additional to those experienced by the average citizen;

 

(e)      notes a survey conducted as part of Sheffield Hallam’s South Yorkshire Armed Forces Covenant Project – Mapping of the Armed Forces Community Across the Region (July 2018) showed that more than half of Armed Forces respondents were unaware that Councils in South Yorkshire had signed the Armed Forces Covenant and 53% of respondents had a poor awareness of specific support services available to them;

 

(f)       notes that the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter published on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage is outdated, having been written in 2018, and believes that this is indicative of wider issues in communication with the AFC;

 

(g)      also notes that Sheffield is one of the only major cities in England who will not be hosting a City Poppy Day in aid of the Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion (RBL); and 

 

(h)      therefore resolves to request the Administration to:-

 

(i)       produce an Action Plan specific to the needs of the AFC in Sheffield within 6 months; 

 

(ii)       use the Action Plan to ensure Sheffield City Council progresses to becoming a Gold-accredited employer as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme;

 

(iii)      provide appropriate training to Council Officers to ensure they are aware of advice, options and support available to the AFC, particularly in relation to physical and mental health, housing, employment, education and finance;

 

 

(iv)      be more proactive in applying for grants from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to achieve the aims in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Action Plans;

 

(v)      become a leading regional partner of the RBL by engaging more with their fundraising and remembrance events at a city-wide level; 

 

(vi)      ensure the production of the updated Sheffield Armed Forces Community Directory of Local Support remains on schedule so members of the AFC are able to easily identify available support;

 

(vii)     routinely publish the minutes of the Sheffield Community Covenant Partnership Board on the Sheffield City Council website to enable members of the AFC and the people of Sheffield to see what action is being taken; and

 

(viii)    update the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage and increase the frequency of the newsletter from annual to semi-annual.

 

 

Minutes:

8.1

It was formally moved by Councillor Lewis Chinchen, and formally seconded by Councillor Penny Baker, that this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)      thanks all members of the Armed Forces Community (AFC) who have sacrificed so much for the benefit of the nation;

 

 

 

(b)      understands that there is a moral duty on the Administration, and indeed on all Councillors, to do more to support members of the AFC;

 

 

 

(c)      notes the challenges which the AFC (including those who serve as a regular or reservist, veterans and family members of those who serve and have served) face in a range of areas such as housing, employment, finance, skills and health;

 

 

 

(d)      recognises the opportunities from an economic and social perspective of more seamlessly integrating veterans back into civilian life and improving support for all members of the AFC who may be facing a range of challenges additional to those experienced by the average citizen;

 

 

 

(e)      notes a survey conducted as part of Sheffield Hallam’s South Yorkshire Armed Forces Covenant Project – Mapping of the Armed Forces Community Across the Region (July 2018) showed that more than half of Armed Forces respondents were unaware that Councils in South Yorkshire had signed the Armed Forces Covenant and 53% of respondents had a poor awareness of specific support services available to them;

 

 

 

(f)       notes that the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter published on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage is outdated, having been written in 2018, and believes that this is indicative of wider issues in communication with the AFC;

 

 

 

(g)      also notes that Sheffield is one of the only major cities in England who will not be hosting a City Poppy Day in aid of the Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion (RBL); and 

 

 

 

(h)      therefore resolves to request the Administration to:-

 

 

 

(i)       produce an Action Plan specific to the needs of the AFC in Sheffield within 6 months; 

 

 

 

(ii)       use the Action Plan to ensure Sheffield City Council progresses to becoming a Gold-accredited employer as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme;

 

 

 

(iii)      provide appropriate training to Council Officers to ensure they are aware of advice, options and support available to the AFC, particularly in relation to physical and mental health, housing, employment, education and finance;

 

 

 

(iv)      be more proactive in applying for grants from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to achieve the aims in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Action Plans;

 

 

 

(v)      become a leading regional partner of the RBL by engaging more with their fundraising and remembrance events at a city-wide level; 

 

 

 

(vi)      ensure the production of the updated Sheffield Armed Forces Community Directory of Local Support remains on schedule so members of the AFC are able to easily identify available support;

 

 

 

(vii)     routinely publish the minutes of the Sheffield Community Covenant Partnership Board on the Sheffield City Council website to enable members of the AFC and the people of Sheffield to see what action is being taken; and

 

 

 

(viii)    update the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage and increase the frequency of the newsletter from annual to semi-annual.

 

 

8.2

Whereupon, it was formally moved by Councillor Dianne Hurst, and formally seconded by Councillor Bryan Lodge, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (e) to (h) and the addition of new paragraphs (e) to (j) as follows:-

 

 

 

(e)      notes that following the publication of the original motion, there has been confusion from some residents about Poppy Days and the city's Poppy Appeal, and we want to make it categorically clear that there is a full programme of remembrance planned for Sheffield, in partnership with the Royal British Legion (RBL), as we have always done;

 

 

 

(f)       believes it is important to note that remembrance events are led by the Royal British Legion, but the Council must do everything in its power to support the RBL and the Armed Forces Community;

 

 

 

(g)      notes that the RBL holds City Poppy Days, which are different from a general Poppy Appeal, in various locations across the country, and that the RBL only host City Poppy Days where they can rely on the availability of members of the Armed Forces - including uniformed personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force - and as such Sheffield have not been asked to host a City Poppy Day, though the Council would, undoubtably, actively support the RBL if this were the case;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that supporting our Armed Forces Community should never be politicised, and that councillors throughout the city must work together to deliver for our service personnel, veterans, and their families;

 

 

 

(i)       believes that consideration needs to be given to how the Council can go further in supporting our Armed Forces Community – including proposals outlined in the original Notice of Motion, including updating the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage, looking into increasing the frequency of the newsletter from annual to semi-annual, and ensuring appropriate training to Council Officers – and calls for a cross-party committee to be set-up to look into this, to be led by the Lord Mayor and the Council’s Military Champion, and including members from all of the Council’s political parties; and

 

 

 

(j)       believes, fundamentally, that any proposals need to be developed alongside the AFC and the RBL.

 

 

8.3

It was then formally moved by Councillor Paul Turpin, and formally seconded by Councillor Douglas Johnson, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (g) and (h) and the addition of new paragraphs (g) to (t) as follows:-

 

 

 

(g)      recognises the best way to protect our armed forces is to not send them to war;

 

 

 

(h)      recognises that the war on terror has cost 900,000 lives;

 

 

 

(i)       recognises that the bombing of Yemen has cost 130,000 lives, and spawned the world's worst humanitarian crisis in a country that was already the Arab world's most impoverished nation;

 

 

 

(j)       believes that by providing better social services all people will be better cared for;

 

 

 

(k)      believes that a properly funded NHS with universal mental health care and trauma counselling for everybody is a standard that the Government is failing to meet;

 

 

 

(l)       believes that the pandemic showed us that there is no reason for anyone to be homeless and that homelessness, like poverty, is a political choice made by the Government;

 

 

 

(m)     resolves to always argue in favour of peace and robustly against war and violence;

 

 

 

(n)      resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP, asking him to:-

 

 

 

(i)       raise the UK Foreign Aid budget to 1% in order to help prevent future wars and humanitarian crises caused by war; and

 

 

 

(ii)       properly fund the NHS so universal mental health care and trauma counselling for everybody, including the armed forces, is standard;

 

 

 

(o)      resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, asking him to:-

 

 

 

(i)       stop British Forces supporting the bombing of Yemen; and

 

 

 

(ii)       to ban the sale of arms;

 

 

 

(p)      resolves to never knowingly provide any business that is involved in the arms trade with financial support from the Council either directly or via grant funding schemes;

 

 

 

(q)      resolves to fulfil Sheffield’s commitment as a City of Sanctuary by helping all people who supported Allied forces in Afghanistan and any other places of conflict;

 

 

 

(r)       resolves to be more proactive in applying for grants from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust;

 

 

 

(s)      resolves to ensure the production of the updated Sheffield Armed Forces Community Directory of Local Support remains on schedule; and

 

 

 

(t)       resolves to publish the minutes of the Sheffield Community Covenant Partnership Board on the Sheffield City Council website.

 

 

8.4

The amendment moved by Councillor Dianne Hurst was put to the vote and was carried.

 

 

8.4.1

(NOTE: Councillor Lewis Chinchen voted for paragraphs (h) to (j) and abstained from voting on paragraphs (e) to (g) of the amendment moved by Councillor Dianne Hurst, and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

8.5

The amendment moved by Councillor Paul Turpin was then put to the vote and was negatived.

 

 

8.5.1

(NOTE: Councillor Lewis Chinchen voted for paragraphs (j) and (q) to (t), voted against paragraphs (g) to (i), (k) to (m) and (n)(i), and abstained from voting on paragraphs (n)(ii), (o) and (p), of the amendment moved by Councillor Paul Turpin, and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

8.6

The original Motion, as amended, was then put as a Substantive Motion in the following form and carried.

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)      thanks all members of the Armed Forces Community (AFC) who have sacrificed so much for the benefit of the nation;

 

 

 

(b)      understands that there is a moral duty on the Administration, and indeed on all Councillors, to do more to support members of the AFC;

 

 

 

(c)      notes the challenges which the AFC (including those who serve as a regular or reservist, veterans and family members of those who serve and have served) face in a range of areas such as housing, employment, finance, skills and health;

 

 

 

(d)      recognises the opportunities from an economic and social perspective of more seamlessly integrating veterans back into civilian life and improving support for all members of the AFC who may be facing a range of challenges additional to those experienced by the average citizen;

 

 

 

(e)      notes that following the publication of the original motion, there has been confusion from some residents about Poppy Days and the city's Poppy Appeal, and we want to make it categorically clear that there is a full programme of remembrance planned for Sheffield, in partnership with the Royal British Legion (RBL), as we have always done;

 

 

 

(f)       believes it is important to note that remembrance events are led by the Royal British Legion, but the Council must do everything in its power to support the RBL and the Armed Forces Community;

 

 

 

(g)      notes that the RBL holds City Poppy Days, which are different from a general Poppy Appeal, in various locations across the country, and that the RBL only host City Poppy Days where they can rely on the availability of members of the Armed Forces - including uniformed personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force - and as such Sheffield have not been asked to host a City Poppy Day, though the Council would, undoubtably, actively support the RBL if this were the case;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that supporting our Armed Forces Community should never be politicised, and that councillors throughout the city must work together to deliver for our service personnel, veterans, and their families;

 

 

 

(i)       believes that consideration needs to be given to how the Council can go further in supporting our Armed Forces Community – including proposals outlined in the original Notice of Motion, including updating the Community Covenant Annual Newsletter on Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces webpage, looking into increasing the frequency of the newsletter from annual to semi-annual, and ensuring appropriate training to Council Officers – and calls for a cross-party committee to be set-up to look into this, to be led by the Lord Mayor and the Council’s Military Champion, and including members from all of the Council’s political parties; and

 

 

 

(j)       believes, fundamentally, that any proposals need to be developed alongside the AFC and the RBL.

 

 

 

 

8.6.1

(NOTE: Councillor Lewis Chinchen voted for paragraphs (a) to (d) and (h) to (j) and abstained from voting on paragraphs (e) to (g) of the Substantive Motion, and asked for this to be recorded.)