The group behind a plan to create a war memorial out of the two granite posts in the Town Square at the Willow Brook Centre has come up with an alternative proposal, five months after its original plan was ridiculed in the national press for being a “memorial for those yet to die”.
Instead of using the existing gate posts, the group’s plan is now to create a “standalone stone memorial of contemporary design”.
But the project has suffered a further setback after a decision on the group’s application for £3,000 of grant funding from South Gloucestershire Council’s Southern Brooks Area Forum was deferred “pending the outcome of further consultation regarding the siting of the memorial”.
On its grant application form, the ‘Friends of Bradley Stoke War Memorial’ stated:
“The memorial will be designed for people to be able to reflect and remember not just the fallen from our armed services but, anyone they wish to remember.”
“It will also serve as the focal point to an annual remembrance parade, organised by the Friends and the 1st Bradley Stoke Scout Group, to remember and teach the younger generations about conflicts which our servicemen & women have played a part in.”
It is understood that the Willow Brook Centre has pledged to contribute a further £3,000 to the project.
Cllr Ben Walker (UKIP, Bradley Stoke North), who heads the Friends group, along with Katherine Robinson of the 1st Bradley Stoke Scout Group, reacted angrily to the area forum’s decision, claiming it was politically motivated. He tweeted:
“Another poor show from South Glos #Tories who stall decision for a mainly privately funded new war memorial, just because it’s a #UKIP idea!”.
At a meeting in July, town councillors in Bradley Stoke agreed to “support the Scouts in the concept of some form of stone or memorial to remember the fallen”, but they stopped short of endorsing the Town Square at the Willow Brook Centre as a suitable location for it, with several members suggesting that a quieter location elsewhere in the town should be considered.
The question of location was also raised in a letter read out at the area forum meeting last month, in which Sara Messenger, a member of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom (BSiB) group, described the Willow Brook Centre as “an inappropriate place for a war memorial”.
Ms Messenger’s letter continued:
“How is it possible to hold a dignified Remembrance Day Service in the centre of a shopping parade? How can we give silent thanks to the 1,300,000 soldiers who gave their lives in the two world wars, so that we and others can live in peace and freedom when you have shopping trolleys barging past and shoppers shoving doughnuts into their faces while gawping at you?”
An idea that Ms Messenger said she has suggested to the BSiB group is to have one roundabout in the town covered with poppies, with possibly just a simple cross in the centre. She also revealed that the group is looking at the idea of creating a ‘remembrance garden’, which could potentially incorporate a war memorial, at one of several potential sites on Brook Way, near Bradley Stoke Surgery.
Support within the wider community for a war memorial of any kind appears to be less than enthusiastic, judging by the results of a reader poll on the Bradley Stoke Journal website. Asked: “Should Bradley Stoke have a war memorial, even though nobody from the town has died in military conflict?” 66% of the 294 respondents said: “No”.
This article originally appeared in the December edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to all homes in Bradley Stoke.
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