Councillor calls cenotaph closure ‘disrespectful’

Cllr John Swift at Whaley Bridge's war memorial
Cllr John Swift at Whaley Bridge's war memorial

Councillors are up in arms after discovering a cenotaph will not be available on Remembrance Sunday for the second year running.

In a meeting last week, Whaley Bridge Town Council heard High Peak Borough Council had announced the war memorial in Whaley Bridge Memorial Park would be unavailable yet again for the annual service in November due to refurbishment work currently being carried out.

Town councillor John Swift raised the issue after the Whaley Bridge branch of the Royal British Legion sent a letter to councillors informing them of the situation.

Cllr Swift said: “The cenotaph is probably used one day of the year and I think it’s disrespectful – not only to the people who are on it, but to the people of Whaley Bridge that wish to pay their respects – that their the cenotaph is not open.”

Members heard the memorial itself has been renovated, however it can now not be accessed because of the ongoing refurbishment of the park.

The cenotaph will be protected with boards and scaffolding to prevent damage while work is carried out around it.

Cllr John Pritchard said: “I don’t understand why the necessary work can’t be done so that it’s either finished in time for Remembrance Sunday or starts after it.”

Cllr Swift continued: “The borough council has known about this well in advance, it’s Remembrance Sunday and the cenotaph should be open for that one day. You’re not telling me there isn’t room to reschedule something or do something. I don’t believe it.”

Cllr Jon Goldfinch pointed out that for some Whaley Bridge residents this year may be the last they are able to pay their respects on Remembrance Day.

“It’s a memorial park, that is why the park is there in the first place,” he added.

The town council voted in favour of writing to High Peak Borough Council’s Chief Executive Simon Baker and Leader Cllr Caitlin Bisknell about the issue, as well as the company that is carrying out the work, to find out if anything can be done to make the cenotaph available.

Cllr Godfrey Claff, executive member with responsibility for parks at the borough council, said: “We have discussed alternative arrangements with the British Legion who are aware of the importance of these works to protect and enhance the heritage of this area of the park.

“The council will continued to work with the British Legion to make sure that details are made available well in advance of Remembrance Day.

“The improvement programme is due to be completed by early summer next year and I would like to thank people for their understanding and patience.”