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Debate in Norfolk village over World War One memorial

PUBLISHED: 14:26 17 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 17 February 2018

British infantrymen on the march in 1916 in Northern France during the First World War. Picture: Archant

British infantrymen on the march in 1916 in Northern France during the First World War. Picture: Archant

A parish council in Norfolk is hoping to pay tribute to those who served in the First World War with a new memorial shelter.

Councillors in Gressenhall have begun asking for community feedback on a proposed village memorial that will also act as a shelter and have the names of the fallen inscribed in steel.

Council chairman John Reader said that it is currently “far from being a done deal” and they are looking for ways they can fund the £15,000 project.

“There is no money for it yet and it mostly boils down to getting the funds,” he said.

“We would like to commemorate 100 years since the end of the war in some way and we don’t have a memorial in the village at the moment. The closest that we have is the church which is about a mile away.

“We thought it would be great to bring something into the village and we’ve been toying with the idea of some kind of memorial, which has now developed into a shelter that people can sit in.

“That is as far as we’ve got so far despite it being developed for about three years. We’ve now decided to show the village our plans and ask them for their views through a questionnaire.”

The council had hoped that they would be able to erect the shelter in time for Armistice Day on November 11 but the challenge of finding funding means that target is unlikely.

Mr Reader added that the parish council has received numerous letters of support for the project but some residents have also expressed concerns about the cost and the possibility of the shelter being used for anti-social behaviour.

At a parish council meeting at the beginning of February a number of residents were reluctant to give their support the project and suggested something smaller should be considered.

One person highlighted that a commemorative bench had previously been discussed.

Another resident said that a shelter is a bad idea and it could attract anti-social behaviour. They drew comparisons to a bus shelter that was once located near to the site of the proposed memorial but had to be removed when the glass was smashed. They added that they felt the cost is an “extortionate” amount of money.

To view the early plans and give your views via the questionnaire, visit the Gressenhall Parish Council website.

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