A Falklands war veteran used his position as the Armed Forces Champion at MK Council to make an impassioned plea for more help for the 10,500 ex service people in Milton Keynes.
Cllr Terry Baines (Conservative, Campbell Park and Old Woughton) was elected to the council in May 2018 and attends events in his role as Armed Forces Champion.
MK Council has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a pledge to treat those who serve or have served in the armed forces fairly in all aspects of life. The council has a paid official to help make that happen.
On Wednesday evening (Feb 20) Cllr Baines spoke in favour of a Tory amendment to the Labour budget which would have seen £50,000 put aside to develop a programme of support for the city’s veteran community. It was presented as a block of Tory amendments that were rejected.
Cllr Baines said: “We are doing well with the Armed Forces Covenant in Milton Keynes. There are 10,500 known veterans in MK.
“Many of those fought in campaigns as far back as Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands like myself and then further on into Bosnia, and then Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Syria
“We have a problem. Of all the people who our new project manager has been talking to, and is having to signpost, 40 per cent of those suffer with mental illness, most of that is PTSD.
“It is something that we are failing to deal with and the charities are picking up the gauntlet on this. It’s something we can work on as a council and the one thing I will say is that we have got officers in this council who are extremely good with the Armed Forces Covenant.
“This is the sort of thing that is going to take some extra funding. I hope going forward to can look at this £50,000.
“I know it isn’t going to go through with the other amendments, but please, let’s take a look at our veterans community.”
Council leader, Cllr Pete Marland is himself a former Armed Forces Champion and he said it wasn’t about the sum of money but that it was not known where the money would come from.
He said: “Your amendment said very clearly that it was to be paid for in the base budget, to be paid for by contingency this year then to be found next year by a magical saving.
“That can’t be the case; we can’t have uncosted proposals.” But he saw it as an issue that the council, including Cllr Baines, could work on.