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MPs plot to join forces to fight for the Staffords name

Thursday 5th July 2012 (Andrew Griffiths)
MPs plot to join forces to fight for the Staffords name

AN alliance of MPs could be formed to fight for the historic Staffordshire name to be retained by the British Army.

Politicians are worried the county’s military pedigree could be lost after the scrapping of 3rd Battalion Mercian Regiment.

MPs Andrew Griffiths for Burton, Bill Cash for Stone, Jeremy Lefroy for Stafford, Government whip Michael Fabricant for Lichfield and Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, were among politicians who voiced concern after yesterday’s defence cuts were announced.

Mr Griffiths said: “If would be terrible if, after the sacrifice and bravery shown by the servicemen and women, this world-renowned name and reputation was lost.

“We will have to see whether we can influence the Government to retain the Staffordshire name and cap badge in some way, shape or form.”

Mr Fabricant, who fought a campaign in 1991 against the merging of the then Staffordshire Regiment with the Cheshire Regiment, accused the Government of ‘salami slicing’.

He said: “While I can understand the need for cuts — the nation is £2 trillion in debt and Labour left the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a £38 billion black hole — I am saddened that the Defence Secretary has decided to salami slice the Mercian Regiment.”

Mr Cash said: “I am profoundly disappointed by the decision to withdraw 3rd Battalion Mercian Regiment.

“The name of the Staffords must be retained.

“The Staffords have been pre-eminent since the early 18th century in military valour and reputation and recognised as such in having a very special identity.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lefroy said it was ‘absolutely vital’ a strong link was maintained between Staffordshire and the military.

Councillor Atkins described yesterday’s announcement as ‘bad news for the county’.

He said: “I’m very concerned about the MoD’s announcement to disband the former Staffordshire Regiment and its effect on the wider county and our armed forces communities.

“Staffordshire has a strong connection with our armed forces, with large bases in Stafford and Lichfield, and was due to be welcoming even more personnel and their families to the county over the next few years.

“I do hope that most if not all of the 3rd Battalion will be absorbed into other battalions and regiments.

“While it will be up to the Mercian Regiment to determine how the Staffords name, identity and traditions can be maintained, I will be contacting the regiment to ask them precisely how this might be achieved.”

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