Forces’ day facing axe

Armed Forces Day at Leigh Sports Village:  Armed Forces Day at Leigh Sports Village:  Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force
Armed Forces Day at Leigh Sports Village: Armed Forces Day at Leigh Sports Village: Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force

ONE of the region’s biggest events for members of the Armed Forces is under threat because of a lack of funding.

For a number of years Wigan Borough Veterans’ Council has hosted an event for people up and down the region to come and remember members of the Armed Forces past and present.

And last year alone the day, at Leigh Sports Village, was attended by more than 8,000 people and it is hoped that by moving the event to the DW Stadium in Wigan it will attract many more people.

But so far it has had little funding confirmed and if nothing comes forward then the event will have to be cancelled.

Although charity bosses are holding out hope that it will not come to that and they will find the £10,000 needed to run the event, which is usually held in June.

In previous years the day has been funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Wigan Council, but bosses say they have still not had word from either body as to whether they will receive any cash.

The MoD does not release information about funding until March, but in previous years funds from the cash-strapped council have already been confirmed by now, leaving the day’s organisers worried about what is going to happen.

Last year a lot of the borough’s councillors dipped into their Brighter Borough funding each giving £100 to help fund the event and it is expected that a similar thing will happen again this year.

Des White, chairman of the charity, said: “This is such an important event in Wigan’s calendar and means a lot to veterans of all ages as well as serving military personnel and their families. It’s a way to show our gratitude for everything the Armed Forces do for us, so it’d be such a shame to cancel it, but at this stage we’re hopeful that we’ll get funding.”

The charity, based in Platt Bridge, is considering all lines of funding including from a private company or donor.

Wigan Council’s Executive Director for Places, Gillian Bishop, said: “The council is facing significant pressure on its budgets and we must save £66m over the next four years. These are difficult times and we appreciate many community groups and organisations that carry out fantastic work may be struggling.

“As part of our drive to cut costs and prioritise vital frontline services, the council did introduce changes to the system of support for community parades.

“Whilst we have not been contacted by the association about this, we would be happy to discuss it further with them.”

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