Protests against Army cuts held across UK

 

A series of low-key protests have been held across the country against proposed Government cuts to the Army.

The small-scale demonstrations, which involved parents of serving soldiers, were held in several cities including Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Southampton.

A protest was also carried out at the Cenotaph in central London.

In Southampton, three former servicemen gathered to hold a two-minute silence at the Hampshire city's cenotaph.

Local organiser Stephen Martin, 57, who served in the Royal Artillery Corps, said: "The Government is planning to cut 30,000 troops by 2020 and, being an ex-serviceman myself, I feel it is unnecessary as currently there are more people leaving than joining up, so if we take into account natural wastage we would get the same result without disbanding regiments."

He added: "We know there are wars in Afghanistan and problems in Iraq and Syria and we never know when we are going to be called to a conflict."

In Leicester, around 10 people gathered at the war memorial in Victoria Park where they said prayers for soldiers and held a two-minute silence.

Neil McKinnon, who was a corporal from 1964 to 1976 before being demobbed, laid a wreath of yellow flowers at the foot of the memorial.

He said he attended the vigil in protest at the cuts and the proposed amalgamation of regiments which, he said, meant "losing the history and the general family feel of six regiments altogether".

He said: "These cuts will have a devastating effect on the morale of the troops.

"Not just the cuts but the way the troops are being treated. They are being treated as a stop-gap measure for this Government, for anything they got wrong."

He went on: "Plus, you've got civilian people being brought in, for instance for the Olympic Games, being given tremendous bonuses and extra pay and there's the poor troops being brought in and put down on cots in warehouses and still expected to do the same job."

Mr McKinnon said he felt angry and upset about the measures and wanted to send a message to serving soldiers that they were doing a fantastic job and had the full support of the public.

His message to ministers was different, he said.

"To the Government - get your act together and get things sorted out.

"We don't need to cut the armed forces. When you trim a tree you don't trim from the bottom, you trim from the top and that's what the Government should be looking at."

Amanda Crowden, who is an organiser of the charity Support Our Soldiers in Leicester, and the mother of a serving soldier who she said she could not identify because he works in intelligence, said the group gathered as a show of support for serving soldiers.

Her husband Chris was with the Royal Lancers before he lost a battle with cancer and died in 2008.

She said: "Being here is our way of showing the Government that we really do need our forces. We depend on them for so many things.

"As we've seen recently with the Olympics it's not only when they're out serving in conflicts, it's at home as well.

"It's just a sad loss to see so many of them go."

She went on: "I think the main thing is the worry because the job situation in general, in civvy street so to speak, is quite dire in some places so I think a lot of the families are very worried about what's going to happen to them.

"Obviously when they join the Army they're looking at a long career and there's a lot of things that come with serving with the Army for the families that follow soldiers around - there's housing and schooling and all that is a great worry on people's shoulders."

PA

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