THE BAMFORD Plaque has been removed from Uttoxeter’s Market Square after a threat of formal action by Staffordshire County Council. Uttoxeter Town Council, which has planning permission for the memorial, previously refused to remove the plaque since it was first installed in 2018.
The town council hoped to create an Area of Reflection near the town’s War Memorial, but did not have the appropriate permissions from the county council for the structure which technically sits within the highway. Now, two benches donated for the Area of Reflection, a Tommy silhouette and the Bamford Plaque, are being stored in the Town Hall. The county council granted permission for the plaque to be erected near the War Memorial for two weeks every year during the period of Remembrance.
Permission for the plaque to be sited there permanently was erroneously issued last year and then revoked. A removable bench will now replace the plaque until October when it can be reinstalled.
At a meeting of Uttoxeter Town Council on February 9, members discussed a letter from Strategic Community Infrastructure Manager at the county council Richard Rayson, warning the town council that the plaque was a ‘potential danger to road users’ and urging the plaque be removed ‘without delay’ as the town council would be liable in the event of an injury or damage as a result of the plaque still being in place.
In the letter, Mr Rayson said: “because of the illegal nature of the obstruction, it is unlikely that any insurance cover, which you may possess, could be invoked. “If necessary, the Highways Act 1980: Section 143, provides the county council wil powers to serve a formal notice, requiring you to carry out the necessary work within 20 days, after which, the county council can arrange for the work to be carried out and for any associated costs, including administration and supervision, to be charged to you. However, I trust that it will not be necessary to resort to this procedure.”
At the meeting, Cllr Phil Hudson said: “The argument is the memorial is an obstruction in the highway. It’s been there for two and a half years with no problems and is now surrounded by bollards. At the moment the county council will allow us to have the memorial up for two weeks. The area of reflection is to say thank you to all those people who gave their lives for us. It needs to be permanent to all.”
Cllr Mark Crutchley added: “I’m very disappointed. To say it’s an obstruction and we’ve got to remove it, only for it to be replaced with another obstruction – I think we’ve only got one option, to comply with what the county council wants us to do.”
David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Staffordshire County Council said: “We continue to support the idea of displaying the feature as part of the town’s commemorations for Armistice Day.
“All the official guidance has been followed and permission for the plaque to be displayed temporarily for the duration of the November commemorations was granted. We are aware that a number of people including the town council wish for the plaque to be displayed permanently. Once an application for its permanent display is made we will work with the town council as necessary.”
Uttoxeter Town Mayor, Cllr Sue McGarry, is standing as the Conservative candidate for Uttoxeter at the county council elections in May and previously said securing permission for the Area of Reflection would be the ‘first job on her list’ if elected. Cllr McGarry was also present when contractors took down the plaque on Friday morning.
She said: “Friday, 19 February 2021 was a particularly sad day for Uttoxeter, when after being displayed for over two years, the town council was instructed to remove the WWI Commemorative Plaque from its location adjacent to the town’s War Memorial.
“Uttoxeter Town Council has, over an extensive period of time, been trying to ensure that the commemorative plaque remained in place, however despite several meetings and telephone conversations with Staffordshire County Council, no resolution that suited both parties could be found.
“As we know, the public opinion which was supported by over 2,000 signatures of support wanted the area located in Market Square adjacent to the town War Memorial to be dedicated as an Area of Reflection which would include the commemorative street furniture to be on display all year round to enable a place for residents and visitors to the town to sit and reflect on those who lost their lives in conflict.
“On behalf of the town council, we will continue to find a solution where our fallen can be remembered.”
We are the only family run, independent newspaper and magazine business in Staffordshire, established 1896. We are home to three weekly newspapers – The Cheadle and Tean Times (aka The Stunner), The Uttoxeter Echo and The Blythe and Forsbrook Times.
We also produce Peeps into the Past, a bi-monthly nostalgic glimpse into our photographic archives, and three bi-monthly glossy lifestyle magazines – Stone and Eccleshall Life, Leek Life and Newcastle Life.
T. 01538 752214 or 753162
18 Tape Street, Cheadle, Staffs ST10 1BD
T. 01889 562479
5 Church Street, Uttoxeter, Staffs ST14 8AG (Uttoxeter Office is a postal address only) CURRENT OPENING TIMES
Mon & Tues 9am-11am