The growing crisis over access to the Cenotaph in Whaley Bridge’s Memorial Park for Remembrance Sunday could be solved this week, as messages of protest reach Simon Baker, chief executive of High Peak Borough Council. He will have the final word over a decision by council officials that would bar families from reaching the memorial for the second successive year.
Mr Baker is due to meet his officials this week to discuss the latest developments over the makeover to the park, which has seen access denied to large areas since two footpaths were closed in early September to permit work on the children’s play area (See here). A path allowing access to the Cenotaph is due to be closed in early October, which would mean relatives of the young men killed in World War I would not be able to pay their tributes on Remembrance Sunday, 10 November.
Campaigners, including local councillor John Swift and Royal British Legion branch secretary David Woodward, hope their letters have persuaded Simon Baker to reverse the decision.
Cllr Swift has pointed out that the Cenotaph is only used one day of the year, and asked why the council could not have anticipated this – on the eve of the centenary year of World War I – and rescheduled council work. He added: “If we were told the Queen was coming to the Remembrance Day service in Whaley Bridge, I’m sure the Cenotaph would be open. It should be open for the people – there is no difference. That would be the correct decision.”
Cllr Swift received strong support from people of all ages at the weekend. He distributed 150 leaflets showing people how to contact the council.
David Woodward said: “Council officials should be working with the people, not against them. Why has all this work in the Memorial Park taken so long? I hope the council changes its mind, so that we all know where the Remembrance Day service will take place.”
Cllr Martin Thomas, Chair of Whaley Bridge Town Council, said: “The Town Council wrote to Simon Baker on 18th September expressing its concern and disappointment at the timing of the works. We have asked that plans are reviewed urgently to re-arrange work in the park to allow for the cenotaph to be used by the community on Remembrance Day”. He added: “There are two approaches to the Cenotaph, we are hoping work on one can be deferred until after remembrance Sunday”.
On remembrance Sunday, the Royal British Legion is organising the annual procession, starting from Canal Street at 10.10am and led by Whaley Bridge Band to Holy Trinity Church. The service, beginning at 10.45am, will be conducted by the Rev Margaret Jones, People are asked to be seated by 10.30am..The Last Post and Reveille will be played inside the church.
Depending on the Borough Council’s decision, the remembrance service will follow at the Cenotaph. If that is closed, a service will take place at The Cross near the Jodrell Arms hotel, as it did last year.