Councils should audit and maintain war memorials
A report from the Local Government Information Unit entitled Honouring the Armed Services Community on behalf of the Royal British Legion includes an number of recommendations. For instance it proposes that councils should give those leaving the armed forces in terms of housing allocation and schemes for shared ownership to get on the housing ladder.
There was also the following recommendation on war memorials:
A key duty local communities owe to their Armed Forces community is to organise activities and provide facilities which commemorate their sacrifice. These include permanent war memorials, Remembrance ceremonies and homecoming parades.
Councils also need to ensure demobilised Service personnel are integrated into community life; to reduce their sense of isolation. This can be achieved through supporting veterans’ groups or by providing discretionary services which promote active elderly citizens.
Maintaining war memorials and commissioning new facilities in respect of current conflicts is an important discretionary local authority responsibility. Under the War Memorials (Local Authorities’ Powers) Act 1923 and its later amendments, local authorities have the power to maintain, repair and protect war memorials in their district. They also have a separate power to correct inscriptions and add additional names to existing memorials in respect of more recent conflicts. There is no statutory duty to do so.
As of 3 October 2010 almost 340 members of the Armed Forces had died in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. We should seek to honour their sacrifice in the customary manner. This includes auditing what memorials currently exist within each local authority area. A list of official war memorials is located in the UK National Inventory of War Memorials at the Imperial War Museum. However, many authorities have private memorials in their areas which should be recorded. Local authorities can then assess their condition and arrange any necessary repairs.
The Leicestershire and Rutland War Memorials Project began in July 2009 and aims to record all war memorials in the area. It has attracted 150 participants in its first year. All project data will be online by 2011. It has found almost 1,000 previously unrecorded memorials. A memorial site to the Service men and women who died in post 1945 conflicts is to be constructed on the council’s campus. It will be comprised of a memorial sculpture developed in partnership with Loughborough University School of Art and Design.