There was strong support from Whaley Bridge Town Council for the local branch of the Royal British Legion, who have had to abandon their planned service on Remembrance Sunday round the Cenotaph in memorial Park.
High Peak Borough Council have said they cannot change work schedules on the multi-thousand pound makeover of the park, including path access to the Cenotaph. The paths will be closed to the public, and the Cenotaph ‘scaffolded and boarded’ on Remembrance Sunday. The Royal British legion will hold a service, instead, at The Cross near the Jodrell Arms.
At their monthly meeting on Thursday (10 October, a month to the day from Remembrance Sunday) Cllr Susanne Lomas made an impassioned speech, saying how the park project been ‘crawling along’. She said she was aghast at the lack of communication. “I cannot believe these people (council officers) couldn’t approach the British Legion and say ‘What can we do?’ ” She wondered how much money, in time alone, had been wasted on the project.
Cllr Rodney Gilmour thought the whole episode had been ‘unprofessional’. The British Legion should have been counted as stakeholders. It was extraordinary, he added, that the children’s play area, part of the same makeover, was dismantled at he beginning of summer.
Cllr John Pritchard said this was another example of councillors across the borough being cut out of information flows (from officers.)
David Woodward, secretary of the local Legion and his chairman John Cooke sat in on the council meeting. Mr Woodward referred to last year when the Cenotaph was opened by the council at the last minute, after the alternative service had been rearranged for The Cross. “We feel we cannot let the issue go. Once (last year’s closure) was perhaps OK – twice is not good planning. There must be more liaison with organisations like us, discussions to get something for the future.”
The town council is to write to the borough council chief executive, saying how disappointed they are with his decision and urging future consultations with stakeholders.
Chairman Cllr Martin Thomas said he had had a talk with local resident Edwina Currie, the former national politician, who had suggested a public meeting to consider Whaley Bridge’s commemoration of the World War I centenary next year. The park work is due to be completed by May, 2014. The council voted to take up the suggestion.
Timetable of remembrance
The final timetable of remembrance events on Sunday 10 November in the Whaley Bridge area will now be:
Furness Vale war memorial, Last Post 9.30am
Bridgemont war memorial, laying of wreaths 9.55am
Whaley Bridge, Canal St, Royal British Legion members assemble to march to Holy Trinity church, 10.10am
Holy Trinity church, Buxton Road, remembrance service, conducted by the Rev Margaret Jones. All seated by 10.30am, service to start at 10.45. The Last Post will be sounded in church.
The Cross, Whaley Bridge station approach, about 12 noon after procession from Holy Trinity: remembrance service, including Last Post
Those of us who usually mark Remembrance Sunday in the Memorial Park at 11.00am will still be meeting as near as possible to the Cenotaph from the Wheatsheaf Road entrance at about 10.50am.