Armed Forces Day faces the axe

Armed Forces Day event could be scrapped
Armed Forces Day event could be scrapped

Eastwood’s MP and MSP have called on council chiefs to rethink scrapping the area’s annual summer Armed Forces Day as part of budget cuts.

The day of flag-raising, marches and family fun events drew crowds of more than 6,000 in June, and was one of the largest annual public gatherings in East Renfrewshire.

But the council is being forced to make drastic cutbacks in a bid to balance its books, and among other economies could lose several hundred jobs.

If Armed Forces Day is scrapped it will be following the example set last year by West Dunbartonshire Council, which axed its event for similar reasons.

However, Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw said the proposal was “a smack in the face to the service and sacrifice that so many in our East Renfrewshire community have given in our armed forces, now and in the past”.

He added: “There is absolutely no mandate for this SNP-Labour administration to end this popular day in support of our Armed Forces.

“As a founding member of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Veterans, establishing Armed Forces Day was a key achievement - an achievement easily surpassed by the bravery of our Armed Forces.”

Echoing his remarks, East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton, said: “Armed Forces Day allows East Renfrewshire residents to give thanks for the bravery and sacrifice our soldiers make on a daily basis to ensure our safety.

“It is disgraceful to let this popular and much loved family and community celebration fall by the wayside.

“I and my colleague Jackson Carlaw will write to (council leader) Councillor Tony Buchanan to ask that he reconsider the removal of funding of Armed Forces Day so that this important event can continue to be a highlight of the East Renfrewshire calendar.”

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “Over the next three years there will be a reduction in resource within the communications team. As a result there will be less capacity to deliver communications services at their current levels.

“One of the proposals in recognition of this reduced capacity is to stop running the family fun day that follows the Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony.

“We estimate that the saving from not running the family fun day together with the cost of the staff resource within the team to support its delivery is approximately £15,000.

“As we have already confirmed we would continue to recognise and honour the contribution of our Armed Forces, past and present, through our annual Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony at Rouken Glen Park which is attended by veterans from across the area and a range of armed forces personnel.”

The consultation on proposed budget economies runs until November 28.

The final budget will be decided at a full council meeting on February 8.