Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) is to deliver new services for veterans following a review of its obligations to the Armed Forces Covenant.

A review, conducted by Councillor Nick Matthews, had recommended the creation of a civilian and military forum to carry the action plan for the borough forward, as well as a single point of contact on the council’s website for the armed forces community to provide links and signposting to all the services that they require.

The report was received by TVBC’s cabinet and its recommendations approved without dissent.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a pledge that can be taken by organisations to help serving personnel, veterans and their families to ensure they have access to the support they need, such as housing provision and wellbeing.

TVBC signed the covenant in 2012, and pledged to support military families in the area. In December 2019, a review of its obligations was commissioned, to be led by veteran Cllr Nick Matthews, to identify areas of improvement for the council.

Following consultations with those from the community, charities and other authorities, the review identified two recommendations. A civilian and military forum was recommended, incorporating representatives of organisations involved in areas such as housing provision and mental health, as well as representatives from the armed forces, to better communicate with the community.

A single point of contact on the TVBC website was also recommended to clearly identify information and advice available for the armed forces community, and help them to access it.

Cllr Matthews said: “My personal experiences and well-known passion for such a subject have ensured that no stone has been unturned in researching the important topics affecting our service personnel, veterans and their families. Therefore, I am confident that this report carries substance and credibility, with particular regard to the main topics of housing, community engagement, health, education and the business of transition.

“We were delighted to confirm that Test Valley Borough Council were conducting good practice already, and compliant with the covenant. I’d like to give particular recognition to our housing department whose engagement has been nothing short of exemplary. There were areas identified that a greater proactive approach and communication particularly, would greatly increase the support for our military community and so therefore the recommendations in front of you for the civilian/military forum and the single point of contact website will achieve this.”

He said that the report had been distributed to a variety of organisations, including the Ministry of Defence and other borough councils, and was “very well received.”

Cllr Nick Adams-King said that it was “an excellent piece of work”, adding that he intended to share it with the chair of the Defence Select Committee, and his best man, Tobias Ellwood MP.

The recommendations were then proposed by Cllr Phil North and Cllr Adams King, and passed without dissent.