Friday, August 31, 2012
A scheme to encircle the war memorial with a metre-high metal fence has ignited fierce debate between Exmouth’s armed services charities and veterans’ associations.
The Royal Signals Association, the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) and the Royal Marines Association back the plans, but the Royal British Legion (RBL) does not.
The town hall last month approved encircling the memorial with 1.1m-high fence, in a bid to stop people climbing and sitting on it, and skateboarders using it as stunt apparatus.
The scheme has been led by Jeff Trail, of the Royal Marines Association, who wants to protect the monument from being ‘disrespected’.
These plans have also been backed by Lionel Howe, a forces charity fundraiser and founder of the 531st Fund, and Bernard Greenaway, past chairman of the RAFA.
Mr Greenaway said: “We haven’t had a formal discussion on this, but I would imagine that the RAFA are for this plan.
“I certainly think it is a good idea.
“After all it was the RAFA who initiated putting names on the memorial, and I would not want to see it damaged further.”
But last week former Royal Marine Dave Turner, the chairman of Exmouth Royal British Legion, took issue with the plans and described the plans as a ‘cage’. And now the RBL’s poppy appeal organiser, Tom Harvey-May, has railed against the proposals.
He said: “They encircled the memorial in Exeter with what can only be described as an iron black metal cage.
“It looks a forlorn, sad abandoned-looking cross, cut off from the public.
“Do we really want that for Exmouth?”
He said that the memorial was a ‘gesture’ of gratitude from the public to the armed forces, and should be accessible by the public and called the plans a waste of money.
He added: “The whole reason that the Strand Gardens are there in the first place is the war memorial.
“Putting a metal barrier around it will look awful and destroy the whole idea.
“I would support the original plans for a fence a couple of feet high but not this.
“It won’t enhance the area.”