Plans to boost support for armed services in Greenwich have been passed as the council reinforces its opposition to the closure of Woolwich Barracks.

Councillors from across the chamber agreed to increase the support for veterans and the armed forces in Greenwich.

Greenwich has the second highest number of Armed Forces pension recipients in the capital.

The council agreed to elect an armed forces directorate champion to work alongside cabinet members, and to raise more awareness for council staff on the support veterans may need.

Labour councillors took the motion further to include support for the Gurkhas and to reinforce the authority’s opposition to the sale of Woolwich Barracks.

The Ministry of Defence announced plans in 2016 to sell the site for redevelopment as part of a plan to cut its land holdings by a third.

The barracks will close by 2028 under Government plans with a local campaign for a U-turn organised by Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matthew Pennycook being backed by thousands of people.

The buildings there have been in use since 1802 and in 1973 the barracks were designated as a Grade II* listed building, signifying the historical importance.

Fusilier Lee Rigby, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who had served there, was attacked and killed by terrorists nearby in May 2013.

Speaking to the motion last Wednesday night (July 17), deputy leader David Gardner said: “My ward is Woolwich Common and half of it is Ministry of Defence land. We have 900 military serving constituents, 600 in the Barracks, and 300 in the family accommodation.

“It is really important to promote and celebrate the military history of the borough. There is a lot more that we can do.

“It is increasingly the case that we need a strategic base for the army near central London, Woolwich is a great location. At its core, Woolwich is a garrison town, it is important we celebrate our history and continue to have the army in our presence as well as our veterans.”

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said after the meeting:  “I am delighted that out proposals to improve support for our Armed Forces members and veterans secured cross party support. In addition to honouring our borough’s proud military heritage, we owe it to our veterans to do more – in a very practical sense – to support their needs.

“The new measures will come into effect by December and include raising awareness of support available through local schools,  gathering more data to develop targeted interventions in the future and appointing dedicated Armed Forces leads in each of the council’s department.

“I was also pleased that we reiterated our cross-party opposition to the Ministry of Defence’s planned closure of Woolwich Barracks – which is simply not supported by the evidence – and to support Matthew Pennycook MP’s ongoing efforts on this in Westminster.”