Is this how we treat our fallen? Legion calls for clean up of Northampton’s memorial

Pictures taken in March show how the war memorial in Abington Square has been targteted by vandals.
Pictures taken in March show how the war memorial in Abington Square has been targteted by vandals.
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Vandals and litterbugs are spoiling Northampton’s war memorial, a former tank gunner says, following a rise in graffiti there over the past nine months.

The monument in Abington Square features the names of more than 3,500 servicemen and women who lost their lives in combat between 1914 and 2008.

...And a brick falls loose.

...And a brick falls loose.

But sadly over the years it has become a target for vandals and littering.

Now the Royal British Legion’s memorials officer for Northampton, Guy Voice, is calling on the borough council to step up its cleaning of the area and come down hard on those who abuse the site.

He said: “If you went up there on Friday last week, there was dog mess, broken glass there were even weeds growing inside the memorial.

“In the last nine months it seems to have just gotten worse.

A wreath is left lying on the floor next to a beer can at the war memorial.

A wreath is left lying on the floor next to a beer can at the war memorial.

“People sit there, they are drinking there, they are graffiti-ing over it.”

In March, pictures taken by British Legion members showed the remains of a wooden planter strewn across the centre of the grassed area.

Under the shelter the poppy wreaths had been pushed onto the floor and beer cans were scattered around. Bricks were falling out of the walls.

Mr Voice served in the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars as a tank gunner and fears those people littering the site do not appreciate its importance. He also feels it needs more general maintenance.

“I think it needs regular cleaning and regular checks, because in November everyone stands there and says ‘we will remember them’.

“But then by May or June it looks like no one is looking after it.

“There are 3,500 names on that memorial. It seems to me that we are not committed as a town to looking after it.”

Mr Voice, 50 from Grange Park, says he will be meeting with the council to discuss the matter again.

A CCTV system overlooks the site, but he said signage could deter people from abusing it.

Cabinet member for the environment at Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Alan Bottwood (Con, Upton) said: “Northampton’s war memorials are very important symbols of the sacrifice made by hundreds of people and their families in conflicts across the centuries.

“They are a priority for us and Abington Square memorial is cleaned every day except Sunday.

“When we were alerted to a particular mess on Saturday afternoon it was dealt with in hours. As with other parts of the town, we ask people not to drop litter and to respect the memorial and what it represents.”