The contentious relocation of the Finchampstead War Memorial is set to go ahead, despite last ditch attempts to prevent it

In February, Finchampstead Parish Council (FPC) approved plans to move the 4.4 metre high Portland stone cross, which has been in place since 1920, from its current location at the intersection of Jubilee Road and Rectory Hill to a verge outside Memorial Park – after conducting a resident’s survey. 

However, members of The Save the Memorial Team (SMT), who are trying to prevent the relocation, disputed the results after claiming a subsequent survey they conducted shows that residents want the memorial to remain where it is. 

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The group claims the council “interpreted” the initial survey as they wanted. 

FPC councillor, Graham Jukes, responded to the accusation by saying: “It’s not their responsibility, it’s that of the parish council. 

“[the survey] was sent to every household in the parish, some of them I personally delivered. Many of the comments asked why we didn’t do it a long time ago. 

“This is not a referendum; the objective was to identify if there were any reasons that we shouldn’t relocate it to the place that we thought was most appropriate.” 

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One of the reasons cited for moving the monument was that of public safety during the annual Remembrance Day parade, the SMT disagree with this due to it being conducted there “for years.” 

Cllr Jukes said: “In the last couple of years the police have told us that they won’t close the roads for it. 

“There is no way that the parish council would support a presession up to the memorial without a road closure. We would have to close six roads to make sure it is safe and we can’t do that without the police being present. 

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“The path from the village to the memorial is less than a metre wide, [it] is extremely dangerous.”  

The council also said that repair work needs to be done to the memorial – due to damage to the cross – which would be too dangerous to conduct in-situ. The SMT claims there are “contractors out there who would do it.” 

Cllr Jukes replied: “Any company that even tries to mow the lawn must have public liability insurance up to £10m – there are very few contractors who have that kind of liability insurance to do such a small job. 

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Overall, Cllr Jukes has been left “cross” by the SMT’s attempts to prevent the relocation. 

He concluded by saying: “They have impugned the reputation and the motives of the parish council. I find it disingenuous and frankly quite destructive doing what they are doing.  

“We are not vandals, we are actually going to take it down, repair it and restore it for the benefit of the people of the parish, for those names that are written on it and for the safety of the people who wish to visit it on Remembrance Day and at other times.”