Council plan to turn back on Sheringham war memorial branded 'disgusting'
PUBLISHED: 00:11 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:11 12 December 2016
Sheringham Town Council is set to take custody of the town's war memorial - after it emerged it had been paying for repairs and improvements, which are currently the district council's responsibility, for more than 40 years.
The landmark in the Boulevard remembers the men and women of Sheringham and Beeston Regis who lost their lives in conflicts around the world.
It was designed by local stonemason Herbert Palmer and unveiled on January 1, 1921.
The memorial is listed for its special architectural or historic interest.
Sheringham Town Council voted to accept the transfer of the war memorial from North Norfolk District Council, despite fears it could end up with costly bills to repair the structure, which requires special permissions, in future.
Councillor Peter Cox said: “Sheringham Town Council has been caring for the war memorial since 1974 - the public expect us to - and we still would be spending money on it if the district council hadn’t taken it off us without any warning.
“If it’s left in the hands of the district council they will not be willing to spend money on it and actually the costs may not be that horrendous.”
Councillor Peter Burns questioned whether a suggestion that the war memorial could need major repairs meant that it was in danger of falling down.
Councillor David Ward added: “We don’t know what the financial implications are for the council whereas at the moment it falls with the district council.”
But councillor Mac McGinn, who installed a fence to keep skateboarders off the memorial, said the number of people who turned out at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday indicated the importance of the local landmark.
He added: “I think walking away from it is a disgusting thing to do.”
Councillors voted 13 to 1 in favour of taking custody of the war memorial.
In a statement issued after the meeting, an NNDC spokesman said: “We have had email correspondence with the War Memorials Trust and Sheringham Town Council about the custodianship of the War Memorial after NNDC wrote to the War Memorials Trust when we were due to carry out repairs in 2015.
“It then transpired that the War Memorials Trust had given a grant to Sheringham Town Council in 2009 to fund works to the war memorial, and that Sheringham Town Council had filled in a Grants Pre-Application form in 2014/15 saying they were the owners.
“The War Memorials Trust suggested the district council speak with the Town Council about the issue of custodianship before the district council put in their own grant pre-application form.
“The suggestion to transfer ownership of the title deed was purely because Sheringham Town Council had accessed grants previously to cover restoration works and had already put in a Grant Pre-Application Form to the War Memorials Trust.”
Sheringham Town Council first queried the ownership of the war memorial with NNDC in May 2015.
The district council spokesman went on: “On June 5, 2015 NNDC wrote back to confirm that the land had transferred in 1972 when the district council took over from Sheringham Urban District Council. In that letter NNDC asked if Sheringham Town Council would be interested in the district council transferring the title of the land to the town council.
“On July 24, 2015 Sheringham Town Council said they would wish to take on the title and responsibility of the War Memorial, following the discussion at their General Purposes and Development Committee meeting on June 16.”