A ROW has broken out over an attempt by Wellington Town Council to amend the Armed Forces Covenant.

Councillors were branded as 'woke' after they voted to amend a commitment to supporting the Armed Forces with an aspiration to achieve 'world peace.'

The covenant is a statement of support for Servicemen and women, which is endorsed by organisations and public bodies across the country to reflect their commitment to troops and veterans.

But when the decision to adopt the covenant went before the town council's policy and resources committee on October 10, councillors voted to tag a caveat to the end of it, 'expressing a commitment to world peace and demonstrating a desire for a time when there would not need to be any Armed Forces.'

Local military historian, and architect of the Rifle's Freedom parade, Chris Penney, slammed the decision as 'woke' and 'a slap in the face to veterans.' He said: "I've never heard of a council trying to amend the Armed Forces Covenant before, it is woke and really quite extraordinary.

"It is also so disappointing that some councillors don't seem to understand what the covenant is for. The covenant is simply a public commitment to supporting our veterans who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.

"Councillors who want to start talking in the same breath about an idealistic future with world peace and where nations no longer need Armed Forces are, to put it kindly, misguided.

"Trying to amend the covenant in this peacenik manner is actually a slap in the face to our veteran community after the years of proud service they have given the country."

However it is understood the attempts to alter the Armed Forces Covenant are doomed to fail, because it is a protected statement in law. But when the issue returns before a full meeting of councillors on Monday, November 6, the covenant will be passed as is, but the record could note the council will endeavour to 'work toward world peace.'

Some public bodies, including the NHS, are required by law to pay 'due regard' to the principles of the covenant, when carrying out some public functions.

Until 2011 the covenant was an unwritten moral commitment made between the government and the Armed Forces to show appreciation for the sacrifices of the services. It has since developed into a formal legal commitment passed by Parliament, and is protected by the Equality Act.

As part of a drive to boost support for British soldiers, sailors and airmen, the government encourages business, charities and local government to sign up the covenant. The full wording of the Armed Forces Covenant is as follows: "The first duty of Government is the defence of the realm. Our Armed Forces fulfil that responsibility on behalf of the Government, sacrificing some civilian freedoms, facing danger and, sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty.

"Families also play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of our Armed Forces. In return, the whole nation has a moral obligation to the members of the Naval Service, the Army and the Royal Air Force, together with their families. They deserve our respect and support, and fair treatment.

"Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.

"This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces. Recognising those who have performed military duty unites the country and demonstrates the value of their contribution. This has no greater expression than in upholding this Covenant."