Less Jedi Knights, more Armed Forces personnel
The last census - which revealed more about the borough's population of Jedi Knights than Armed Forces personnel - should prompt change, according to one borough councillor.
Coun Paul Kenny will call on the local authority to push for the government to focus on the military community in the next census in 2021.
Mr Kenny has tabled a motion for this week’s full council asking for support to make sure the census can help service providers assist the armed forces community.
He told the Evening Post the last census garnered “patchy” data and the same mistake should not be made again.
The 2011 census revealed that 682 borough residents counted themselves as Jedi Knights - the good-guys from the Star Wars films - or, more accurately, they took part in a mischievous campaign to subvert the results of the religion category following a grass roots movement.
Coun Kenny said: “Statutory and voluntary service providers are unable to fully meet the needs of the Armed Forces community as there is limited and patchy data available concerning their profile, needs and location.
“There are over 22,000 veterans living in our borough but this is a best guess.
“The last census provided more information about the Jedi Knight population than it did about those who have served their country.
“To this end, I will be asking colleagues across the council chamber to join me in calls for the UK Government to include questions concerning military service and membership of the Armed Forces community in the next 2021 census.”
Coun Kenny, the council’s cabinet member for leisure services and lead member for armed forces, will call for support at Wednesday’s meeting of the full council where it is an almost certainty he will receive the necessary backing from his Labour colleagues for the motion to be approved.
Greater Manchester signed the first Combined Authority Community Covenant in 2014 and authorities are working in partnership to raise awareness of armed forces community issues.
As part of its commitment, Wigan Council is in the process of building an Armed Forces Hub as part of the regeneration of the Wigan Pier quarter site.
Coun Kenny’s motion reads: “This council moves to support and promote The Royal British Legion’s call to include a new topic in the 2021 census that concerns military service and membership of the Armed Forces community.
We further call upon the UK Parliament, which will approve the final census questionnaire through legislation in 2019, to ensure that the 2021 census includes questions concerning our Armed Forces community.
The 2011 census figures, released by the Office of National Statistics, revealed that Wigan borough has the fifth highest proportion of Christians in the region with 77.8 per cent. The borough also had 257 pagans, 16 Rastafarians, 11 Druids, 10 Scientologists, eight Satanists and one occultist. Wednesday’s meeting will take place at Wigan Town Hall and still start at 6pm.