Council leaves future for war memorials open to question

Labour-run Greenwich Council has refused to publish a timetable for the restoration of the borough’s war memorials despite the Centenary of World War One starting in 2014.  


At the December Council meeting, Conservative Councillors led by Cllr Spencer Drury and Cllr John Hills asked for a clear commitment to restore the Borough’s war memorials in a motion which concluded:


“Hence Council requests that prior to being transferred to the ‘Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust’ a condition survey is completed of all war memorials in the Borough In addition, Council requests a clear action plan is presented to Council outlining when restoration of those war memorials being transferred to the Trust will take place.”


During the debate Spencer made clear that the Council had agreed to do a full survey of the condition of all war memorials across the Borough a year ago, but this had simply not been completed.  He repeated that when Conservatives had held an initial debate a year ago there had been plenty of time to put in place arrangements to restore memorials, which all Councillors agreed “are suffering the effects of ageing and weathering” but now there was little time left. 


However, the Labour Councillors refused to agree to a full survey of the memorials (despite agreeing this last year) or an action plan for their restoration.  Instead, they changed the motion, removing the commitment asked for by Conservatives and simply re-stating that their own policy was best.  Their amendment read:


“Council welcomes the discussions officers have already had with the Heritage Lottery Fund and recognises that the transfer of its own war memorials to the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust offers the best prospect of securing the resources necessary to providing on-going restoration and management of them.”


It went on to congratulate itself on providing the new ‘Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust’ with £2m to maintain and restore all of the war memorials, the Tudor Barn in Eltham and Charlton House.

Spencer said “I think Labour Councillors should be ashamed that the commitment to a full condition survey of all war memorials that they all voted for last year has simply been ignored by the Cabinet and they are prepared to let them get away with it. 


We need to be clear, that the Labour Council has spent millions in recent months on a range of vanity projects but they are not prepared to provide a proper plan for restoring our war memorials which are valued by many people in this Borough, including me.  Old soldiers like our own Cllr John Hills will be deeply disappointed by this failure to commit to a proper plan for restoration over the Centenary of World War One and I fear the Labour-run Council will continue to let the war memorials decay through inaction and incompetence.”