A COUNCIL with close ties to the country’s armed forces has been recognised for its work supporting serving soldiers and veterans.

Colchester Council is set to receive its first gold award from the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme, which acknowledges the work of employers in supporting the armed forces.

Colchester has a historic and established relationship with the military, thanks in part to a centuries-old link between the town and its garrison.

The council prides itself on being one of the first authorities to sign up to the Defence Discount Service, which offers military discounts and concessions at Leisure World and Colchester Castle.

Announcing the recipients of the awards, the Ministry of Defence said more than 50 per cent of the council’s workforce have links to the armed forces.

Mike Lilley, councillor responsible for public safety, said: “It’s a tremendous endorsement of our promise to support this community.

“As signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, we are committed to supporting all members of the military community with fairness and respect, so they do not face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services.

“We aim to maintain and develop this work going forward, providing our servicemen and women with the support they rightly deserve.”

The council is one of 11 organisations in East Anglia set to receive the gold award.

The accolade will be bestowed at a ceremony at the National Army Museum, in London, in November.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison, said: “The garrison enjoys a close and productive working relationship with Colchester Council.”

“The council is aware of and responsive to the needs of the town’s military community.”

The awards scheme was launched in 2014 by then Prime Minister David Cameron.

It encompasses bronze, silver and gold categories for employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support for our armed forces.