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Anger and confusion over £2,400 “bill” for Remembrance Day parade

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ROYAL British Legion officers across Warrington have been left confused and uncertain about Remembrance Day parades this year after being told they will have to find thousands of £s to enable the processions to go ahead.

Warrington Borough Council and Cheshire Police appear to be blaming each other for the situation – and it is understood the Royal British Legion (RBL) itself is unable to provide financial support.



At least one RBL branch has indicated that it will have to cancel this year’s parade – which has been taking place for 70 years.
Opposition members of the borough council have joined in the dispute.
Cllr Wendy Maisey said: “The council really has reached rock bottom with the decision to enforce a charge of £2,400 on the Royal British Legion at Culcheth for traffic management of Remembrance Sunday.
“The three borough councillors in Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft are absolutely appalled and have written to council officers conveying our anger and disappointment and insisting on a resolution.
“Funds raised by the RBL are there to help our veterans and their families, not to subsidise essential public service.”
“The procession is a 70-year tradition in Culcheth and there is outrage amongst residents that this is thrown into jeopardy by a mean-spirited Borough Council, who are in essence making it all but impossible for it to go ahead.
“All residents have seen a rise of over 7 per cent in this year’s Police precept and 5 per cent on council tax and yet provision hasn’t been made to ensure this important ceremony continues. We will continue to lobby the appropriate departments until this is resolved satisfactorily.”
Culcheth RBL secretary Wayne Bibby said: “I was called to a meeting with the borough council’s safety advisory group, along with other RBL branches, and informed there would be no support from the borough council or Cheshire Police to provide temporary street closures for our annual Remembrance parade. This has taken place every year since the founding of the RBL in Culcheth, some 70 years ago.
“We have been told we would need to pay the council £2,400 for private companies to be put in place.
“The RBL is a charity which raises much-needed funds for all our veterans, their families and dependants in times of need.
“We are not allowed by Charity Commission rules to use monies other than to provide this much-needed support.
“I find this a very disgraceful and disrespectful act from both the borough council and Cheshire Police. We will have to cancel our parade, which is causing much anger in the area. We simply cannot believe the borough council and the police could be so heartless to our community – which they are supposed to serve.”
Lymm based Cllr Graham Gowland commented: “As both the Chairman of the Lymm Branch of the RBL, and a Parish and Borough Councillor, we have been aware of issues around road closures for several years. The RBL has discouraged branches from organising remembrance parades for 5 years, and instead ask local councils to take responsibility for the delivery of Remembrance parades. “The RBL has no insurance for such events, and does not allow branch funds to be used to organise parades. Since 2015 the police have been reluctant to provide cover to close the roads. We have met with the Local Police and requested our parade is policed. They advised us they would do their best to cover the parade, but we were only advised on the 24th of September that they would not. Since then, the Borough Council has worked hard to arrange formal road closures, but the Council’s power to close roads is very different to the police when supporting a parade, and requires a contractor to attend and put up barriers and signage – at a cost to Lymm of £1,200.
“The Parish is stepping in and meeting this cost, but it is a shame we’ve not had the support of John Dwyer, the Police and Crime Commissioner to continue the traditional support of Remembrance. We could simply tell the police in writing 6 days before the parade, and they would have responsibilities for it, but as a responsible organiser that would not be appropriate, especially as in Lymm part of the parade is along a Trunk Road. I have heard it commented that a small rise in council tax or parish precepts would cover it but given the millions already taken from council budgets, this is yet another cut from local services.”
Borough council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “Remembrance Sunday provides the opportunity for reflection and to honour those who have served our country with honour and dignity.
“There will be a number of Remembrance Sunday services throughout the borough this year, including at Bridgefoot. Given the significance of these events, the council is disappointed by the decision of Cheshire Constabulary not to provide support for traffic management duties – particularly given the significant rise in the Police Precept this year. In addition, unfortunately, the Royal British Legion has also indicated that it is unwilling to provide financial support.
“The council is holding regular discussions on these matters with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Parish Councils and the Royal British Legion and is helping to organise the events to ensure they are safe and secure. At this stage however, the council cannot commit financial support for traffic management arrangements and is asking other local partners to contribute, as we are unable to do so due to financial pressures.”
In a joint statement,  assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims and Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer, said: “We recognise and understand that Remembrance Day parades are important community events that bring everyone together to commemorate those who have served our country and sacrificed their lives on our behalf.
“We would like to provide our personal assurance that Cheshire Constabulary will work with partners and communities in order to ensure that planned Remembrance Day ceremonies and parades are able to go ahead.
“In 2017, it was identified and agreed with local authorities that Remembrance Day parades should go through the Safety Advisory Groups in line with other pre-planned events as the responsibility and legal powers for pre-planned traffic management lies with Local Authorities and event organisers.
“Each local authority has been contacted again this year in ample time so that the requisite plans can be agreed through the Safety Advisory Groups.
“Every year Cheshire has approximately 70 Remembrance Sunday Parades and we will ensure that there is a policing presence, however, we do not have the legal powers to implement pre-planned road closures so can’t provide traffic management duties at these parades, unless it is required spontaneously, for which we have specific policing powers.
“We would like to reassure residents that local officers and senior leaders will continue to be present at this year’s parades. These are big community events and local policing teams are very much a part of that community. They will play an active role engaging with local people and provide a visible police presence in order to support the organisers, whilst paying their respects and remembering those who lost their lives.”

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  1. It is very disappointing to see the celebration of Remembrance in Warrington turned into a political spat by new councillors from Culcheth. Remembrance Sunday is an occasion for the entire community to show their respects for the sacrifices that previous generations, members of their families, and current service personnel, made on the battlefield.

    I am a previous Vice Chair and currently Treasurer of the Lymm Branch of the Royal British Legion which is on the brink of merger with a neighbouring branch, or closure, because after 100 years it is no longer able to form a working committee and there is little or no work for the committee to do. I do not speak on behalf of the Branch or the Parish Council, these views are my own.

    The Lymm Poppy Appeal is run by a team separate from the Branch and does not need a Branch to collect the £15,000 – £20,000 raised each year for the Royal British Legion’s welfare fund.

    The last function of our Branch was to arrange the annual Remembrance Parade in association with Lymm Parish Council. The Parade takes about 10 – 15 minutes to march from the Village Centre to St Mary’s Church and a similar time to return after the Remembrance Service.

    Because this only requires traffic to be managed for a few minutes in each direction, until this year, the Police stopped traffic for the Parade. Only police have the legal right to stop traffic in this way.

    If a Highways Authority wishes to stop traffic it needs to issue a Traffic Management Order in advance, put in physical barriers, and remove them after the event and have a full event safety management plan. It is for this reason that a road closure ordered by a Highways Authority (in our case Warrington Borough Council) is so costly. Such closures are appropriate for street events that take a large part of a day, but not for a short march to and from church.

    Several years ago, Royal British Legion HQ, following an accident, instructed Branches to cease organising, or taking any responsibility, for Remembrance Parades and to hand the entire responsibility to their Borough or Parish/Town Council.

    Branches were allowed to advise and to parade, but not to organise, take responsibility or help finance Parades. This removed a key former function of Royal British Legion Branches. Given many do not manage their own Poppy Appeal and now attend very few funerals it does raise the question of what is the point of Royal British Legion Branches unless they have a social club and an active welfare function?

    Members voted with their feet and Royal British Legion Branch membership in our Branch has plummeted. It is difficult to find any convincing reason, other than sentiment, when recruiting members. The only role they will be able to take, other than being a paying member, is to join a committee that has no real business. Unless, of course, they are keen on attending pointless Royal British Legion conferences that argue endlessly on constitutional matters and engage in a mountain of unnecessary and costly bureaucracy.

    The Royal British Legion seems to have no difficulty in finding funds for those activities, but is unwilling to contribute to the cost of road closures, now that the police have, for the first time in Cheshire, withdrawn their support for the events.

    Lymm Parish Council has now taken full responsibility for celebrating Remembrance in the Village. The Royal British Legion no longer has a role. The Parish Council, which pays a considerable sum every year to fund Police Community Support Officers is very disappointed by the withdrawal of support for Remembrance by Cheshire Police and the significant road closure costs that have hit the Parish Council as a result.

    Because we see Remembrance as an essential community act of respect for the fallen, the Parish Council will ensure that this year’s event takes place and follows all the necessary safety requirements.

    However, we hope that Warrington Borough Council, Parish and Town Councils and churches in Warrington and the police come together to discuss arrangements for future years. This should not be a political dispute; it should be a decision by the community on what is the most appropriate way to hand on Remembrance to the next generation.

    Cllr Bob Barr

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