Council apologises for "Misleading" criticism over Firepower museum

Greenwich Council has apologised for accusing a local Conservative Councillor of "Ignorance" over future plans for the Firepower Museum in Woolwich.

Nigel Fletcher, Deputy Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, has called the proposal -which involves the museum closing and relocating outside the Borough-  a "missed opportunity" to put Firepower at the heart of the new Cultural Quarter on the Woolwich Arsenal site.  In response, a Greenwich Council spokesman said this view "Betrays a high level of ignorance of the history of the museum [and] its attempts to make a success of its location in Woolwich" (Greenwich Mercury, 23rd April 2014).

The Council's Chief Executive, Mary Ney, has now written to Councillor Fletcher to apologise for the comment.  Her letter says:

"I do, of course, apologise for any misleading impression created by the Council’s statement which I cleared and for which I accept responsibility. Absolutely no disrespect was intended to you, your role or your right to put forward a view. I am fully aware that you have knowledge and experience of the matter and we did indeed discuss some of the context and history of this proposal at your Group’s briefing. The comments were not addressed to you personally and I am sorry that impression has been given."

The letter goes on to state there was "no intention" to attribute the difference in opinion over the plans to ignorance on the part of Councillor Fletcher.

Nigel Fletcher said:

"I welcome this apology for the unjustified criticism of me.  It was clearly highly inappropriate for taxpayer-funded Council officers to make such remarks about an opposition Councillor on the eve of an election.  We have a right to disagree with the ruling administration without facing personal attacks from staff whose duty is to remain impartial.

"The suggestion I am ignorant of the history of the museum was grossly offensive, given I have spent eight years closely involved in supporting Firepower, and served on its Board as a Trustee until last year.  I am pleased to see that suggestion has now been retracted.  I remain sad that Firepower will be leaving, and I hope the Council will now concentrate on ensuring it continues to have some legacy on the site."