RESIDENTS are being urged to sign an online petition seeking to retain the second battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which is facing abolition by the Ministry of Defence.
Members of the public, businesses and organisations are being urged to sign the petition, which requires 100,000 signatories to trigger a full debate in Parliament which could help reverse the disbandment decision.
In July the Ministry of Defence announced the outcome of an army review which will see the number of soldiers drop from 100,000 to 80,000 by 2020 – one casualty of the efficiencies is the proposed abolition of the second battalion of the Royal Regiment of fusiliers.
The battalion was formed in 1968 through the amalgamation of several regiments including the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, so has close ties with the county.
Northumberland County Council is to write to the secretary of state expressing strong concern about the impact of disbandment on the county.
Councillors are also backing the e-petition 35724.
Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate resources at Northumberland County Council, said: “We are particularly proud of our close association with the regiment and I hope that residents share that same sense of pride.
“The fusiliers have been a real force for good in Northumberland and are important to the region.
“While we understand the need to achieve budget savings across the Ministry of Defence, Northumberland and the north east is a key recruiting ground for local fusiliers.
“Removing the battalion will impact on job, training and life skill opportunities for local men and women at a time when the area is suffering from high unemployment.
“The proposals also put a strain on military reservists and the companies that employ them.
“We urge the government to rethink this decision. It is not in the best interests of the armed forces, Northumberland or the region.”
In 2010 the regiment was granted the Freedom of Northumberland, the county’s highest civic honour, to reinforce its ties with the area and show appreciation for all that it does.