Eric Pickles confirms final Nepalese fundingBy Tim Harris
September 18, 2012
GOVERNMENT secretary for communities and local government Eric Pickles has visited Aldershot and Farnborough to meet with Nepalese residents.
Mr Pickles arrived on September 12 to learn about the work being done to help integrate former Gurkha soldiers and their families into the area.
During his visit Mr Pickles took the opportunity to announce the final instalment of funding from the government – a £150,000 payment towards English language lessons, described as 'vital' in helping Nepalese people settle in local communities.
Of this payment, £46,000 will go to a cluster of authorities, including Rushmoor, in north Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.
Rushmoor Borough Council was given a £500,000 grant by Mr Pickles in February through the government's Gurkha Settlement fund, to fund Nepalese integration projects.
The council has since been awarded a further £400,000 from the £1.5 million settlement fund, bringing the total grant up to £900,000.
Mr Pickles spent three hours in Rushmoor, and met with Aldershot and Farnborough MP Gerald Howarth, leader of Rushmoor Borough Council Andrew Lloyd, leader of the council Peter Moyle and other council staff involved in supporting local communities.
The secretary of state also met with staff from the Aldershot Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB), Hampshire Police, Nepalese community leaders and volunteers – which included Nepalese young people.
Mr Pickles said: “These brave British army veterans have given our country loyal service over many years.
“It is their bravery that has helped protect our way of life and our traditions and it is right that their dedication is honoured.
“Many of these ex-servicemen and their families have been proud to call this country their home and we too are proud of the strong ties that have been established between the ex-Gurkhas, their families and their wider communities.
“We are determined that if they chose to settle in the UK to see that they and their families are treated with dignity and respect and are made to feel welcome.”
Mr Pickles visit to Rushmoor follows a meeting early this year between the secretary of state, Mr Howarth, Mr Lloyd and Cllr Moyle at the House of Commons.
This meeting was held to discuss the impact on Aldershot and Farnborough and impact on local services of the large number of former Gurkha soldiers and their dependents arriving in the borough over a short time.
“We were extremely pleased to welcome Mr Pickles to the borough and to show him the work we have been doing to help develop strong local communities,” added Cllr Moyle.
“Over the last couple of years, we have seen significant pressure on services in Aldershot and Farnborough because of the arrival of large numbers of former Gurkha soldiers and their dependents.
“Mr Pickles has been consistent in his understanding of our local issues and his willingness to support us. We are very grateful for his continued support and for taking the time to visit the borough.”