An Andover councillor has criticised the ‘appalling’ treatment of Gurkha veterans by the Government as a petition over their pensions nears 100,000 signatures.

Councillor Richard Rowles called on Andover to back the veterans, who are campaigning for those who served before 1997 to be given a full service pension, in line with other British veterans. He said that the town had a significant Gurkha community who deserve support.

“Andover has a significant Gurkha community, and they’re absolutely fantastic,” the ex-mayor told the Advertiser. “It baffles me why someone who has served their country in war is not getting the same pension as others, and I'm appalled that veterans of 1997 and earlier do not get a service pension.”

“There is no excuse for it. If they have served our country they should at the very least be given a pension. I find it disgusting that our society finds it acceptable for Gurkha veterans to be on hunger strike outside No. 10.

“It’s a kick in the teeth.”

Gurkhas are soldiers native to Nepal, who have served in the British Army since the Victorian era, including both World Wars. From 1948 until 2007, their pension scheme was different to that of other British soldiers, under the Government’s assumption they would return to Nepal where the costs of living are less than the UK.

This was changed in 2007, and backdated to 1997, with those serving in and after 1997 eligible to transfer to a full UK service pension, but those before are not.

Around 200,000 Gurkhas, recruited from Nepal, fought in both world wars, and they have also served in places such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hampshire is a major centre for Gurkha veterans, with thousands moving to the county after the base for the Gurkha Brigade moved to Aldershot in 1997. The county also hosts the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.

Those who served from 1948 to 2007 were members of the Gurkha Pension Scheme until the Labour government of the time eliminated the differences between Gurkhas’ terms and conditions of service and those of their British counterparts.

A group of Gurkhas are now calling for change, undertaking a hunger strike outside 10 Downing Street in an effort to change the decision. A petition set up to call for full pensions to be awarded to all Gurkhas has reached over 83,000 signatures at the time of writing, with 100,000 leading the Government to consider it for debate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said there are “no plans” for him to meet the group, but defence secretary Ben Wallace has said he was happy to meet protesters, but warned that no government “of any colour” had ever made retrospective changes to pensions like the ones the demonstrators are calling for.

If you would like to sign the petition, it can be found at: