Where’s the fairness in Remembrance funding?

Brownhills Remembrance Parade in 2017 went ahead – and was very well supported – precisely because people like John Bird and Ian Neville worked tirelessly to raise funs for it. It’s wrong that they have to, although we’re all immensely grateful that they do.
Image from Shell Handley.

I’ve hd a really interesting email in from a respected elder in Brownhills, someone whose comments on the area I’ve always respected greatly and whose opinion I value and usually agree with – John Bird.

John Bird has periodically written clear, eloquent and concise letters to the local press – the ones that have always stuck in mind have been the ones relating to the development and plans for Brownhills High Street, and he’s written some brilliant stuff over the years.

I’ve very pleased that John’s made contact on another very important issue, too.

John is commenting on the fact that in Walsall and around the country, many Remembrance parades are having to fundraise to pay for road closures so they can go ahead. I’ve covered this point previously on the blog several times – the withdrawal of police support for this event has always angered me.

Thankfully, people like Ian Neville and friends in Brownhills, Dave Whitehouse an co. in Pelsall, Lee Bragginton and the Scouts in Walsall Wood and so many more work so hard to raise funds for it, so the parades have continued. But this is clearly not satisfactory – to me, John Bird or the wider community.

John Bird raised the following point:

Remembrance Sunday Parades.(Road closures.)

As we all know, the Police Authorities have withdrawn their support with respect to traffic management and road closures during the Remembrance Sunday Parades and the Cenotaph Services at the various local centres in and around Walsall.

In order that these dignified memorial events can take place it has necessitated the formation of teams of volunteers to not only organise them but also to raise the substantial funding to pay for professional traffic management and the high cost of public liability insurance.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to ask the question ”Does anyone know if the English Defence League paid for the substantial costs of the police involvement during their so called rally in Walsall town centre on the 7thApril 2018 recently?” There did not seem to be an officer shortage on this occasion.

In conclusion I would like to suggest that as the Police have had their government funding cut and are obviously feeling the affects of those cuts, they could help themselves by taking on the role of traffic management during these Remembrance Sunday Parades and making a charge for their services. I would have thought that this would probably be not only safer but cheaper than these very expensive traffic management companies.

That’s a good question John, and a good point. It’s worth pointing out that events like Pelsall Carnival, St Patricks Day, Pride and Vaishakhi parades etc. all have to raise money too (and have had to for a long time before Remembrance had to), not just Remembrance, just so we’re clear.

I think the reason the police turn out for protests (who ever is staging them) is that the right to protest is enshrined in UK law and a tenet of British civil society: If you assemble a protest and do it correctly, I don’t think the police or Council have any power to stop you except in very exceptional circumstances. I could be wrong. I welcome views on this.

However, that doesn’t make the situation right. I would never deny people the right to protest freely be they left or right wing, but I would also not charge Remembrance events for police help – that should be a civic duty to those who gave their all – that we do is a disgrace, plain and simple.

In this, I blame not the everyday frontline coppers, but the top brass who’ve clearly decided to make a political point over something dear to all of us.

What do you think? Please do comment here or mail me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Again, thanks to John for making an excellent, thoughtful point.

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