Local Labour politicians have expressed disappointment at West Dunbartonshire Council’s failure to organise an official event to celebrate Armed Forces Day for the first time in years.
In one of first acts of the new SNP-minority administration in West Dunbartonshire, the national day of recognition on 24 June 2017 passed by without any ceremony or event for the first time since Armed Forces Day was introduced in 2009.
The previous Labour administration organised annual processions, ceremonies and church services to thank service personnel and veterans, many of whom live in the local area and are still in active service.
At last year’s event local cadets, Scouts and veterans’ organisations marched through Clydebank alongside serving members of the local Dumbarton Company of 51 Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Civic events are authorised by the Provost of the Council, William Hendrie, but this year West Dunbartonshire Council opted for a low-key Armed Forces Day by only choosing to display the Union Flag on council buildings. In contrast, the SNP Provost has invited all councillors to attend a civic reception on 14 July to celebrate the culture of the autonomous Basque region in Spain.
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said:
“Armed Forces Day has been an important annual event in our local calendar for almost a decade so it is extremely disappointing that West Dunbartonshire Council has chosen not to join the rest of the country in recognising the bravery of our service personnel.
“People in West Dunbartonshire are proud of our connection with the Armed Forces and many will find it astonishing that one of the first acts of the SNP-led Council is to completely ignore Armed Forces Day.”
Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Martin Rooney, a former tank commander in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who saw active duty in the first Gulf War, said:
“This is embarrassing for West Dunbartonshire. Of course we welcome our Spanish visitors but it shows the SNP’s complete lack of judgement that the Council has organised an event to celebrate Basque culture while snubbing our own residents who serve in the Armed Forces.
“I served in the Army for 15 years and the ceremonies hosted by the previous Labour Council were always well-attended community events with many local residents wishing to pay tribute to the brave men and women in our Armed Forces