Here's the cut and paste of it in case the link go's all wonky again:
Tuesday 12 August 2008
Abandonedsoldier - epetition reply
We received a petition asking:
âWe the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to authorise and promote the erection of the James Napier sculpture, the Abandoned Soldier, permanently on the âvacantâ plinth in Trafalgar Square.â
Details of Petition:
âA magnificent and poignant bronze sculpture by James Napier, a gifted young British artist, reflects the deplorable state of post service support given those who have served our country in combat zones. A substantial proportion of those with no proper home who live on the streets, are ex-servicemen unable to cope when returning to civilian life after experiencing the horrors of action. Yet the Government and MOD, have callously fallen short in responding to the needs of so many who have suffered physically and mentally, in serving our nation in combat. Hence, this sculpture has been titled âThe Abandoned Soldierâ, and its impact says more than mere words! I urge you to support this petition to have this moving work erected permanently on the âvacantâ plinth in Trafalgar Square to honour and remind us all of those who have given so much in the service of our country. This has nothing to do with whether you support any, all, or none of the actions to which our servicemen have been assigned â it is to recognise their fulfilment of their âDUTYâ, and the âDUTYâ we all have to ensure that they are properly and sympathetically looked after when they need our help.â
Â· Read the petition
Â· Petitions homepage
Read the Governmentâs response
James Napierâs sculpture, the Abandoned Soldier is an exceptional piece of art and deserves a permanent home but the Government does not generally sponsor statues or memorials, military or otherwise. Responsibility for the management of Trafalgar Square passed to the Greater London Authority (GLA) in 2000, so the Government has no direct say in what should be put on the fourth plinth. However, any suggestions from the public are welcomed by the GLA and should be sent to the Mayorâs office at City Hall, The Queenâs Walk, More London, London SE1 2AA.
As recognised by the Royal British Legion, the Government has overseen a far-reaching programme of improvements. Over the last 24 months the following steps have been taken:
Â· A pay rise of 2.6% for the Armed Forces, together with a 1% increase in the X-Factor component of basic pay, as recommended by the Armed Forcesâ Pay Review Body (AFPRB). This will result in an overall pay increase of about 3.5% for the majority of Service personnel which will be implemented in full from 1 April 2008.
Â· New Financial Retention Incentives for specific specialised Service skills and trades including Submariner Nuclear Watch-keepers, RAF Gunners and Fire-fighters as well as some Army Mechanics and Bombardiers. There will also be a new form of specialist pay for Army and RAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operators. These improvements came into effect from 1 April 2008.
Â· A tax-free Operational Allowance of Â£2,320 for a six-month operational tour and a tax-free rebate of Â£140 on the cost of their council tax for Service personnel deployed overseas.
Â· A comprehensive modernisation of Gurkha terms and conditions of service.
Â· An extra 140 Mastiff vehicles for our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with a total of over Â£1 billion spent on Force Protection announced last year for new weapons, body armour and helicopters; our Service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan say they have the best personal equipment ever.
Â· An extra Â£24 million of funding was announced in May to be invested over 4 years in the Armed Forces Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court which will build ward and accommodation facilities as well as a bigger prosthetic limb workshop and other treatment facilities.
Â· The first of six regional pilots for a community-based mental health service for veterans was launched in November 2007. Other pilots at sites across the UK are following. It is intended that the mental health pilots will run for 2 years ahead of evaluation and nationwide roll out. The service is designed to provide regional networks of culturally sensitive expertise in military mental health to support NHS health professionals.
Â· MOD gave the mental health charity Combat Stress Â£2.5M in fees in 2006/2007 and last year agreed to a phased increase in the fees, which rose to 45% from January 2008, to enable them to enhance their capability to treat veterans.
Â· The provision of priority medical examination and treatment, subject to clinical need, extended to all veterans whose conditions are assessed by their GPs as being due to service. This provision has also been adopted in Scotland and Wales.
Â· We have established a dedicated team in MOD to improve our liaison with local coroners to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in responding to coronerâs requests for inquests into Service deaths. To avoid backlogs of inquests, extra resources have been made available to both the Oxfordshire and Wiltshire coroners.
Â· An additional Â£80 million would be made available over the next three years for Phase 2 of the Single Living Accommodation Modernisation (SLAM) Project, increasing the funding for this phase by over 20% from Â£335 million to Â£415 million. In 2007/08, Â£800 million will be spent on Service accommodation and overall, we plan to spend in excess of Â£8 billion on accommodation over the next 10 years.
Â· New support will be given to help Service personnel buy an affordable home as a result of work MOD has undertaken with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). And for the first time, Service personnel and their families currently in Service accommodation in all regions of the country will be eligible for financial assistance to help them onto the housing ladder.
Â· The independent National Recognition Study initiated in December 2007 to examine ways of improving the nationâs understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces has now been published and includes over 40 recommendations. The Government has welcomed the Report and will consult widely on it and produce a full response as soon as possible. It has already accepted a number of the recommendations:
Greater encouragement on the wider use of uniforms in public;
The creation of an Armed Forces and Veteransâ Day;
More systematic arrangements for homecoming parades and ceremonies for the award of Campaign Medals and Veteransâ Badges; and
An examination of the options to strengthen the cadet forces.
Â· The cross-Government Command Paper will outline the steps taken so far and future initiatives to ensure improvements in support to Service personnel, their families and veterans, from across Government, continue to be made.
Although the Government has a particular responsibility for ensuring that the Military Covenant is honoured, it is also a matter for the Nation as a whole. In particular, there is a wider issue about what more individuals and local communities should be doing to demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces and their appreciation of what they are achieving in very difficult circumstances in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
If it has been the case all along that this petition was not going to be actioned at any level by any of these (pigs in the trough,do as I say not as I do) politicians then...... oh why did they not put a caveat on the documnt to say so then all who were going to sign could have directed it to Red can or thank god now Boris.
Either no one reads these petitions until the deadline is over or no one in Goverment gives a damn....either way this is another cop out by those in power....If they realy thought it was a good idea then they would push it through and make a big PR aspect of it ...supporting our troops. The problem is that even though this is a magnificent sculpture just the name of it is an embarrassment to not only this goverment but to all politicians who have held power since the second world war and have used and abused our armed forces to negate thier own political careers. The sound byte on the downing street reply says it all, we wont get involved but here's what we have done ...............................like a dwarf that has missed the bus.............too little too late!!!!!!!!
Quite right. I will be penning a note to my MP asking why petitions that are placed on the No 10 site are not checked to see that they are being directed to the appropriate tit. Another huge waste of our money to try and convince us that we are being listened to.
It is also news to me that:
As recognised by the Royal British Legion, the Government has overseen a far-reaching programme of improvements