Leicester

Soldiers sign Rutland community agreement

A community covenant has been signed between the people of Rutland and soldiers due to move into the county.

The Royal Air Force is closing its Cottesmore base and soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment will arrive from Ayia Napa in Cyprus in July.

The covenant is designed to ensure the troops are welcomed and that they become positively involved with life in the rural community.

Further troops will arrive from the Royal Logistics Corps in 2013.

Leader of Rutland County Council, Roger Begy, said it was important to make the soldiers feel part of the community.

"We have had a very close, working relationship with the airforce for many years and recently with the navy and army.

"We've got 400 single army personnel and 240 families coming in July and we thought it was a good idea, that we, the community, will work to make their life in Rutland pleasant.

"They, in turn, will work to make Rutland as pleasant as possible for us."

'Party town'

Brigadier Andrew Williams, Commander 49 (East) Brigade, who signed the covenant on behalf of the army, said the idea between the agreement was to strengthen ties between existing and new residents.

"This covenant will help...ensure that our armed forces, veterans and their families have the support they need, are not disadvantaged for being servicemen and are treated with the dignity they deserve in the future."

Mr Begy added he was not unduly worried about the soldiers transferring from notorious party town Ayia Napa to rural Rutland.

"You don't have to be in the army to be dancing in the street, singing in the street and we have to work together and now live together. We do not want an us and them situation and we need to develop our society," he said.

The base is due to close in March with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

RAF Cottesmore opened in 1938 and during the 1960s was the base for nuclear capable Vulcan bombers. It was the home of the Harrier aircraft until 2010.

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