Fleetwood Weekly News Column
Fleetwood Weekly News Column

One of the most moving events in the Fleetwood calendar is Remembrance Day – our opportunity to remember those who have given their lives in defence of the country – and a reminder of how many serving personnel we still have in the town, particularly in the army and navy.

At the time of writing it’s believed 13,000 armed forces personnel are absent from duty because of coronavirus. The armed forces are increasingly playing a major role in the UK’s response to this crisis, including working closely with the NHS, being drafted in to support Local Resilience Forums and performing coronavirus testing. The Ministry of Defence has created a 23,000-strong COVID Support Force, which could be used for further frontline support in settings such as hospitals and prisons.

Across the world there is concern over the risk to armed forces personnel. US and French navy ships have recently experienced coronavirus outbreaks, with the first US death on active duty reported last week. Meanwhile, one of the UK’s two flagship aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is reportedly due to set sail on a training exercise later this month.

Labour is calling on the Government to do more to protect those who are doing so much to protect us.

It’s critical that we start testing armed forces personnel and publishing the results as other countries are doing, with priority given to the COVID Support Force. The United States is amongst the countries which publishes aggregate data on testing of military personnel, but the Ministry of Defence does not currently provide this information.

We believe large-scale training exercises should be postponed where these cannot be done safely, to prevent outbreaks that other country’s armed forces have experienced.

We must ensure support for deployed personnel including full PPE for frontline staff in the UK, withdrawal from non-essential overseas postings to places where it is easier to protect personnel and urgent provision of adequate medical supplies to deal with any coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus is showing again how our armed forces help keep us safe. It is vital the Government does everything it can to keep them safe too. The inspiring story of 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore demonstrates the strength of character our armed forces personnel share. Captain Tom originally aimed to raise just £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. He’s now raised millions. Let’s show our respect by making sure his fellow service personnel have the life-saving kit they need.

After weeks of asking the Government for financial help to support the fishing industry, it has finally thrown out a lifeline with £10m in cash grants to help fishers stay afloat.

About 1,000 fishing, fish-farming and fish sales businesses are expected to benefit.

Most of the fish eaten in the UK is imported, while the vast majority of the British catch is sent overseas. The price of fish has also fallen, by as much as 80% in some cases.

The industry is trying to expand the UK’s home market, but consumers have been reluctant to move beyond established favourites of cod, haddock, salmon and tuna. Less popular fish such as red gurnard is plentiful, cheap and tasty, but overlooked. So, if you want to support the industry we have left in the town please support the fish delivery companies – and push the boat out by trying something new!

I hope you’re all managing to cope with our enforced isolation. For those who have lost, I send love and prayers. For those who feel lost, remember there will be a time when this will all be over – a time when we’ll return to the embrace of our loved ones and friends. Until then, please stay safe.



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