Walsall Wood Remembrance Parade – what a mess!


St. John’s, Walsall Wood – focus of the Remembrance Day parade for decades.

It’s been an odd day today – sometimes you get stories on the blog that are initially very complex, but get simpler as they untangle; this one is the absolute opposite, and all I can do is post the information I currently have for you to make you own minds up.

Last night I was contacted by a great friend of the blog who told me that the annual Remembrance Day Parade in Walsall Wood that marches from the Ebenezer (I believe) to St. John’s Church would not this year go ahead because (and I quote here) ‘The Police are not willing to marshall the parade this year.’

I wrote a post about this in the early hours, and set out to find more information from the police and council before I posted it. I was, and remain downright annoyed that an act of Remembrance that has been traditional for decades in Walsall Wood should be curtailed.

Information proved hard to come by. The news spread through Walsall Wood, with quite a few postings on Facebook. I got lots of messages and mail.

I advised – and still do – caution before becoming too angry. I resolved to find out as much as I could. I enlisted the help of top Walsall Wood bloke David Evans, who offered to talk to his contacts. I pushed the police for comment.

From the outset, the press office at West Midlands Police have been excellent, and very patient. I will have no criticism of them of their professionalism. Likewise, those to whom I enquired at Walsall Council. Helpful to a fault.

My initial enquiry (all these took place on Twitter via direct messages) as to the Police ‘not willing to Marshall the parade’ was responded to at around 11am:

West Midlands Police
Hi Bob – do you know which parade that relates too? There was some media coverage surrounding this a couple of weeks ago in Walsall but as far as I’m aware all 11 parades were set to go ahead.

Will check it out for you, Pete.

Whilst there has been some comment in the Express & Star and elsewhere about cutbacks leading to route changes for some parades, this is the first I’ve heard of one being curtailed altogether. As the only afternoon parade in the area, this surely can’t be a lack of manpower.

Later, at noon, Pete at the West Midlands Police press office came back with:

West Midlands Police
Just spoken to Walsall – it’s not true. I’ve copied the statement we’ve got on this below:

Walsall Police Superintendent Lee Kendrick, said: ‘We have managed to secure additional officer resources from outside Walsall to help out on the day and staff the road closures. It means most of the 11 parades in the town can go ahead along routes organisers had submitted, but some have been tweaked and we appreciate organisers being flexible.’

I was surprised by this, and asked for further clarification.

Are you sure because St Johns seem convinced this is the case and are telling other groups?

West Midlands Police responded:

West Midlands Police
Will do some more digging and come back to you

At about 5pm, they issued a further statement:

West Midlands Police
Hi Bob, sorry for delay coming back. Here’s amended info from us:

Superintendent Lee Kendrick, from Walsall Police, said: “We have been working closely with the organisers in Walsall Wood to ensure the event can take place safely on Remembrance Sunday. The plan for this year was a result of negotiations between organisers and ourselves.

‘We will continue to support the proceedings this year with officers on duty at the war memorial to provide traffic calming measures and ensure a wreath can be laid and attendees can return to the church safely.

‘Road closures for any event on the highway are provided through application to the court by the organiser or local authority and is not the responsibility of police.

‘Across the Walsall area student officers have volunteered their time to help us police several parades on the day to allow people to pay their respects.’

I genuinely have no idea what this actually means. The key part is the third paragraph about road closures. I’ve made enquiries since with Walsall Council and been told that they thought the parade was happening as normal, but that nobody had contacted them about Walsall Wood, only Brownhills.

In response to a request for clarification of the above statement, West Midlands Police further elaborated with:

West Midlands Police
Hi Bob – Requests for all public processions and pre-planned road closures would need to be made to the Walsall Council’s Safety Advisory Group who will consider the applications. Full details on this here:
http://cms.walsall.gov.uk/index/demonstrations_and_parades.htm …

There does seem to be genuine confusion between the police and the organisers, who I believe to be St. John’s Church. David earlier left a message for the Vicar to contact him, and as yet I don’t think we’ve had a response (Thursday evening, 8th October).

David Evans also spoke to a Walsall Wood Councillor, who believed the parade was to go ahead after a change of decision, and vowed that he would, if at all possible, facilitate. it.

This all seems like a mess to me. It’s only the 8th October – having made enquiries, it might be possible to secure the required permissions from Walsall Council, but it’s unclear if the event ever had them. If a shortage of marshals is a problem, I’m sure plenty would volunteer from the community if necessary. Surely this isn’t insurmountable?

I stand ready as a community platform to communicate here with the interested parties over this matter, and will endeavour to keep all informed, but at the moment, I genuinely only have vague clues as to what has actually happened. I think whatever issues there are can be resolved amicably, as a community.

Remembrance is a tradition, it’s important. No other place in Walsall seems to be having it’s parade denied, but then, if the correct procedure has not been followed, perhaps we can get that in place.

I sincerely hope this is a case of crossed wires or Chinese whispers, because if it isn’t, I’m thoroughly ashamed and disgusted. I’d really like to hear from St. John’s and any local Councillors or other parties involved, and clarify the situation if this is a misunderstanding.

This story obviously isn’t over. Stay tuned, and if you want to add anything, please feel free. You can contact me in confidence if you like: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

What has particularly stuck in my craw in all this is the language used in the original contact. That people were ‘not willing’. It’s a bloody good job those who gave their all were willing.

Lets sort this out, people.

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10 Responses to Walsall Wood Remembrance Parade – what a mess!

  1. Les Bullock says:

    We have had this problem in Heath Hayes for a number of years. Staffordshire police service (force)has been so far cut that they can’t do their job properly.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    It is just 100 years, and almost to the month, since local soldiers from Walsall Wood, along with fellow comrades in arms from Brownhills, were among the many who were killed in the terrible battle of Loos . I hope that this year’s Remembrance Parade issue at Walsall Wood will be resolved,..and quickly,

  3. Martin says:

    Hi Bob.
    Brownhills have the same trouble,I have been informed by a good source that the remembrance Day parade will not be going up the High Street this year, just keeping to the side streets.

    Kind regards

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  6. Les Bullock says:

    In Heath Hayes our Parish Council, through the Council Clerk organise the Rememberance Day parade and service of Rememberance. The Clerk also organises stewarding of the event, as, due to ‘cutbacks’ the police can only provide limited attendance. I’m sure that the clerk (details available on website) would be more than willing to offer advice.

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