In a lively debate which saw some sharp exchanges between councillors and members of the public, Fair Oak Parish council voted overwhelmingly in favour of renaming the village war memorial as ‘The Peace Memorial’ last night
The council permitted members of the public to make representations and a statement from a war veteran in favour of calling the monument a war memorial was read out.
The Chairman Helen Douglas (Lib Dem) claimed that during the course of writing her book ‘A History of Fair Oak and Horton Heath’, she had discovered that the original intentions of the founders was that the memorial should be in the form of a peace memorial and that designs incorporating military symbols had been rejected.
Vice Chairman Phillip Spearey (Lib Dem) also spoke strongly in favour of the term ‘Peace Memorial’ agreeing with the Chairman by saying the wishes of those who had raised the subscription should be respected. He added that that other examples of peace memorials exsited in Ilford and Clevedon.
Opposing, Councillor Hugh McGuinness (UKIP) said that the original hopes of the founders that the end of the first world war would lead to a lasting peace would have been shattered in 1939. He pointed out the dates inscribed on the pedestal read 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945 which clearly meant the memorial commemorated two periods of war, not a period of peace. It was, he concluded, therefore inappropriate to call it a peace memorial.
A compromise suggestion to refer to the War memorial as ‘The Memorial’ was rejected.
Some members of the public present claimed that the memorial has been known as ‘The War Memorial’ for over 50 years, citing the existence of old postcards as evidence. Others accused the council of ‘political correctness’ – an allegation that was firmly denied.
At the vote, the motion to name the memorial as ‘The Peace Memorial’ was only opposed by Councillor McGuinness and was therefore carried.
“A ludicrous piece of politically inspired revisionism” commented one objector who did not wish to be named
‘A History of Fair Oak and Horton Heath’ by Helen Douglas is published by Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council and is available from their office for £2.50
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