13th May, 2021

Memorial action sparks outrage

Rob George 18th Sep, 2020

A FURIOUS war of words has broken out after council chiefs removed ‘hazardous’ items which had been placed on the base of the warhorse memorial in Pershore’s Abbey Park for ‘detracting from other features in the park’.

Project founder Sue Cosnett was left heartbroken to find the tributes removed last Thursday (September 10) and took to social media to launch an appeal, believing them to have been stolen.

However she and sculptor Steve Cooper discovered the truth after an e-mail to Wychavon District Council’s parks officer. In the reply, council officers state Sue was told on August 25 via e-mail the tributes were potentially hazardous and asked for local residents to remove them within 10 days.

“I am so upset by the removal of these items without even speaking to me. I never received the e-mail otherwise I would have responded straight away,” Sue said.

“We only decorated the area to pay tribute to VE and VJ Day on the 75th anniversary. One of the wreaths taken was laid at the unveiling back on November 9 and the horseshoe donated by a veteran. A lady left two white roses in George’s hand in memory of her loved one and she rang me last night in tears over it all.”

Mr Cooper, who created the sculpture, said: “I am greatly disheartened the items had been removed and not even a courtesy call to me was made when they didn’t hear from Sue.

“I have undertaken work for them for 30 years – they have my number. They were doing no harm, the warhorse has been installed for 10 months and no one has had cause to complain.”

In response to council claims the items were removed for ‘detracting’ from other features in the park, the founder of the Commemorative Garden – Pershore’s war memorial – Trudy Burge said: “I note they did not remove anything from my late dad’s Commemorative Garden or wrote to me about my decorating up the Commemorative Garden. So it’s not across the board then, just aimed at Warhorse.”

In response, Phil Merrick, Head of Economy and Environment for Wychavon District Council, said: “A number of items, including gnomes and garden lights, were removed from the war horse sculpture by our parks team, as they were deemed to be inappropriate, in poor condition or detracted from the sculpture and what is an award-wining, well maintained park environment.

Mr Merrick acknowledged the initial e-mail had not been received which led to ‘confusion, miscommunication and upset which we sincerely regret and apologise for’.

“We have contacted the main fund-raisers behind the sculpture to arrange a meeting, so we can work together to agree guidelines for appropriate tributes to be placed on, or around the sculpture, in future.

“We want to work with the people that worked hard to fund-raise for it, so we can ensure the sculpture’s beauty, message and symbolism can be appreciated in an appropriate way.”

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