Concern for future of Stoke cenotaph remains, despite city council reassurances
COUNCIL chiefs have ruled out selling-off a town centre cenotaph as part of a major redevelopment.
But they have failed to convince veterans who are calling for the war memorial in Stoke to be properly protected.
Regimental associations believe the cenotaph will be at the mercy of developers when Stoke-on-Trent City Council moves its headquarters to Hanley's Central Business District (CBD).
The authority has moved to assure the former servicemen that it will seek to secure the future of the Kingsway memorial, should the area it sits on be redeveloped.
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But the veterans have raised fears that, because the cenotaph is not an officially listed building, its future could be in doubt.
Maurice Hope, from the Potteries and District REME Association, has contacted all councillors and the city's three MPS about the issue.
The 69-year-old, from Fenton, said: "I contacted the city council asking for assurances that when the area is sold off the cenotaph would be safe.
"However, I was told that as it is not a listed building, any speculator that buys the land is fully within their rights to come and knock it down.
"This isn't on, because the cenotaph has been left to the city. So I emailed all 44 councillors and the three MPs.
"Then I got a response from the council saying it is committed to maintaining it. But I'm worried that after the next election the people who are making all these decisions might not be in office." The council says it has no plans to sell the land where the cenotaph stands, and that the public would be consulted about any redevelopment of the area.
In an email to Mr Hope, councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, said: "The city council has no plans to sell the land on which the cenotaph sits or land immediately adjacent to it.
"As part of any redevelopment of the wider area the council will seek to ensure, as owner of the land and custodian of the cenotaph, that there is suitable public access to the structure and that remembrance services can continue. This reflects the council's unfaltering acknowledgment of the importance of the cenotaph as a centre of remembrance and the role it plays in the history of the people of this city.
"As part of any redevelopment proposals for the surrounding area there will be consultation with all the relevant organisations including representatives of those who use the cenotaph." Members of other regimental organisations have echoed Mr Hope's concerns.
Michael Beaman, the 63-year old secretary of the Stoke-on-Trent branch of the Royal Army Service Corps/Royal Corps of Transport Association, from Fenton, said: "I'm dubious about what the council promises because it tend to change its mind. We don't want anything happening to the cenotaph. It is there for the men and women who sacrificed their lives in not only two world wars, but other wars since."
Peter Hopwood, secretary of the Staffordshire Regiment Association's Fenton and District Branch, said it was 'disgraceful' that there should be any doubt over the memorial's future.
The 73-year-old from Trentham said: "There shouldn't be a thought in anyone's mind that it might not be safe. We need a guarantee in writing."