Council keeps its war centenary plans firmly under wraps

We will remember them.

Town Hall war memorialIt is just that as far as Croydon Council is concerned, they don’t yet know how.

According to one senior staffer in Fisher’s Folly, “The council does indeed have plans to restore and refurbish war memorials and any associated grounds prior to the First World War centenary.”

But beyond that, it is impossible to discover any other council plans for such a significant, poignant commemoration, the centenary of what was supposed to be “the war to end all wars”, and for which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a “truly national commemoration”.

Croydon Council has secured some funding from the War Memorial Trust for the Crystal Palace Triangle memorial in South Norwood, and other memorials across the borough have been identified that are in need of works prior to 2014.

But it has been suggested to us by a council insider that the delays in developing any plans for the World War I centenary have been caused, in part at least, because Town Hall staff have been preoccupied with their office move from Taberner House.

Contacts in Arnhem, Croydon’s twin town, also suggest that there have been no special plans yet made to mark the 70th anniversary next year of Operation Market Garden, the parachute operation into Holland in 1944 which aimed at hastening the end of World War II but which ended in tragedy.

While no one would suggest that significant commemoration of historic events is wholly the responsibility of the council, some leadership, influence and perhaps even some modest funding from the Town Hall might have been expected to help the British Legion and other community groups.

We are firmly with Jeremy Paxman on this subject, and would not suggest, as David Cameron has done, that there should be a “celebration” of World War I. But as the BBC Newsnight presenter has said, “not to acknowledge the war’s significance would be wilful myopia”.

Seems that Croydon Council is short-sighted in so many ways.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to Council keeps its war centenary plans firmly under wraps

  1. davidcallam says:

    This would be a good opportunity to pay proper respect to Croydon’s war dead and other conflict fatalities. We should relocate the apology for a war memorial in Katharine Street and create something more fitting in a more dignified setting, like the Queen’s Gardens.
    Many of us may not agree with violence as a way to solve our problems, but if we insist on putting our armed forces in harm’s way we should treat our fallen with due respect.

  2. As an organisation the Council is just one of many potential contributors to the development of activities on a wide range of aspects of the Borough and the First World War. The history, heritage and civic amenity groups, residents associations, churches, long-standing businesses, schools etc all have their role to play on the experience and effects of the War . There is plenty of project money on offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund from £3,000 to over £100,000. There may well be long established families in the Borough who may want to research and write up the experiences of their members who lived through the War.

    • There is a problem with that, Sean. Since Croydon Council’s unethical behaviour over the Riesco Collection, and the Museum of Croydon’s loss of its accreditation to the Museums’ Association, it is unlikely that any council-supported funding bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund or other agencies would be permitted.

      • The London Office of the HLF informs me:

        ‘I can confirm that we accept applications from Croydon Groups and that they do not require council support.’

        Page 4 of the application guidance for FWW proejcts £3,000-£10,000 states:
        ‘Under this programme, we fund applications from:not-for-profit organisations; and
        partnerships led by not-for-profit organisations.
        If you are applying as a partnership, you will need to decide which organisation will fill in our application form and receive the grant.
        Whoever is involved in an application, it is important that benefits to the public outweigh
        private gain.
        Here are some examples of groups that could be interested in exploring the First World War:
        charities or trusts;
        clubs or interest groups;
        community or voluntary groups;
        community/parish councils;
        faith groups;
        history groups;
        local authorities;
        public sector organisations;
        schools and colleges;
        social enterprises;
        resident’s associations;
        youth groups.
        If you are successful in receiving a grant from
        us, your organisation will need a bank account.

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