A VETERAN who has been involved in Warrington’s annual Remembrance Sunday event for more than two decades, has been left angry and upset after discovering the borough council has instigated a police investigation into Sunday’s unofficial gathering.
Lt. Col. Les Taylor-Duff, who attended on Sunday with two standard-bearers, a bugler and two comrades, to pay their respects, knew nothing of the police investigation until after being contacted by warrington-worldwide, more than 48 hours after the event.
As of today, Thursday, he has still not been approached by the police or the council.
Lt. Col. Taylor Duff, aged 78, who has helped lead the event for more than 20 years, says at least four police officers attended at the cenotaph of Sunday and told him they were not there to enforce but to observe and lay a wreath. At no stage did they make any mention about an illegal gathering.
“It was not an organised event. After being told the planned private event at the parish church had been cancelled, I decided to attend the cenotaph with two standard bearers, a bugler to play the last post and two comrades.
“I had no idea other people were going to turn up. I had been told the Mayor would be attending but she had been and gone by the time I arrived.
“Everyone else just turned up randomly but social distancing was maintained. I saw the MP and others but no arrangements had been made to meet – people just turned up to pay their respects in a public place.
“At the end of proceedings, the police actually came over and said thank you.
“I am angry and upset that the council has instigated a police investigation and that politics has got involved at a time when we are honouring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so others can enjoy freedom.”
Meanwhile, local Lib Dems have hit out at the “party politics.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Warrington Council, Cllr Bob Barr said:“A representative from my Party obeyed the Council’s instructions and did not attend to lay a wreath because the event was cancelled.
“He, and a small number of my colleagues, attended events in their own parishes. The one in Lymm was well organised, socially distanced and the names of everyone present were recorded.
“It is a great shame that party politics has come into this when Remembrance Day should be about unity not division. We await the result of the Police investigation with interest.”
Commenting on his attendance on Sunday Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: “Specific exemptions were made by the Government to allow for open air, socially distanced Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying.
“I placed a wreath at the cenotaph in my capacity as the Member of Parliament on behalf of my Warrington south constituents, a number of other individuals and organisations, including Cheshire Police did the same.”
Labour deputy leader Cllr Cathy Mitchell was seen laying a wreath on behalf of Winwick Parish Council but has declined to comment pending the police investigation. Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden was also seen in the background.
Meanwhile last night an online petition was launched calling for council leader Cllr Russ Bowden to resign, stating the decision to ask the police to investigate Sunday’s event had brought “national shame” on the town.
Warrington Borough Council and Cheshire Police have declined to comment further pending the police investigation which is ongoing.