Ruffley asks people of Bury St Edmunds to line the streets for the Royal Anglians

Monday, 19 November, 2007

David Ruffley MP has today called on the people of Bury St Edmunds to line the streets on Friday 23 November for the homecoming of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The Royal Anglians will be exercising the Freedom of the Borough in a parade through the town between 12.15 and 12.35pm. The route the parade will take will be:

Angel Hill, Crown Street, Churchgate Street, Guildhall Street, Abbeygate Street and back to Angel Hill.

David has also taken this opportunity to publish a document looking at some of the key issues in the fight for the better treatment of our armed forces and their families.

David said:

'The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment have just returned from a gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan. This was a campaign that took the lives of several brave soldiers from our region.

'There are few words that can express the sense of pride that I feel in being the Member of Parliament for The Royal Anglian Regiment's Regimental Headquarters. These brave men and women have fought to make the world a safer place for us all- no praise is high enough for what they do in our name.

'As the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, recently said: 'in America, appreciation for the armed forces is outstanding and, frankly, I would like to be able to mirror some of that here'- I could not agree with him more.

'This Friday the Royal Anglian Regiment will be exercising the Freedom of the Borough and parading through the streets of Bury St Edmunds.

'I want to see the people of this town lining the streets to show their respect for the Royal Anglians. Shops should close their doors and their staff should come out onto the pavements to applaud these brave men and women. This is an opportunity for Bury St Edmunds to show the rest of the country how to behave and to let our armed forces know just how deeply we value them.

'I do not want to see ever again the shameful pictures we all saw in the press of Abingdon in Oxfordshire where 400 men, from the 4th Logistic Support Regiment, were met by empty streets.

'In addition I have this week published a document exploring the treatment of our armed forces and their families here in Britain.

'There are things we could do that would make a real difference to our troops. Why don't they get more contact time with home via telephone and e-mail? Why won't the Government guarantee the Royal Mail scheme providing troops with free parcels from home? Why don't they have the same system as the Americans where your leave starts the moment you step foot on American soil rather than when you actually leave Afghanistan?

'We need to look at the schools they send their children to. We have got to look at the housing, so much of which is completely sub-standard. And we have got to look at the health care. When you are wounded on a battlefield you want to recover with your comrades and that must mean a separate military ward. The Military Managed ward set up by the Government at Selly Oak has been reported as having just 14 beds- in July alone 145 injured soldiers were flown back from war zones requiring treatment. The result is soldiers being treated alongside civilians.

'Our armed forces must not be undervalued and deserve better treatment from this Government. This is why I will be at the forefront of any campaign to redress the injustices they endure on a daily basis.'