On Friday 25 October, I stood down after three years as Branch Honorary Secretary of the Royal British Legion (RBL) Little Common.
It seems something of a coincidence that there should be an article in the Bexhill Observer on the same day repeating many of the misunderstandings regarding the Little Common War Memorial and its surroundings which have dominated most of my time in the job. May I take this opportunity to set the record straight with a few facts.
Whilst by Act of Parliament Local Authorities (Rother DC in this case) are given the powers to maintain and make additions to War Memorials, they have no obligation to do so.
RBL regulations, recognising that Local Authorities have these powers, prohibit local RBL Branches from taking responsibility for War Memorials.
Indeed they recommend that Branches concerned about their local memorial should approach their Local Authority! We have challenged this ruling at both County and National level of the RBL, but to no avail.
In the case of Little Common, the War Memorial which was erected on the then village green now finds itself in the centre of a roundabout on a trunk road and therefore the responsibility of the Highways Agency.
Both Rother DC and the Highways Agency are unwilling to accept any responsibility for the memorial.
As regards work done recently to tidy up the roundabout, this was undertaken entirely voluntarily by Little Common RBL Club President, Ernie Eldridge (aged 79) assisted by willing helpers Simon Briggs, Bobby Moore and Tom Mason. Ernie funded the pansies (and 200 bulbs) which they planted from his own pocket.
They also pruned the rose bushes and Ernie’s wife Penny contacted both Rother DC and the Highways Agency to ask if they would remove the resulting debris.
When both agencies declined, the volunteers again stepped in and removed it themselves.
I make no suggestion as to how the current impasse regarding ownership of and/or responsibility for the War Memorial and roundabout can be resolved.
However, I live in hope that some day soon common sense (and common decency) will prevail.
Those named on the Memorial gave their lives for their community and their country. Surely we owe it to them to secure its future.
Bexhill on Sea