Tuesday, 7 April 2009

We promised to remember them - but do we?

James Hulme of the Telegraph has highlighted the the row brewing over the remembrance of Georgie Sparks. Royal Marine Georgie died last November, aged just nineteen, whilst serving his (our) country in Afghanistan.

James says:

Events since his death say much about how as a country we do not do enough to commemorate the names and achievements of young men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the nation.

Georgie’s family are currently embroiled in a battle with their local town and district councils over plans to honour him by naming a local children’s playground, a place where he himself played as a child, in his name. Elements of the town council have approved and then withdrawn their support , leading to unedifying claims and counter-claims between both councils and Georgie’s family, as well as the local community. The issue not only does nothing for the reputation of local government but more importantly highlights the often half-hearted way in which we as nation recognise the contribution of our armed forces involved in current conflicts.

Whilst towns and cities around the country will remember those servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on Remembrance Day and on war memorials, it should not be beyond the capability of local authorities to develop new ways of honouring service. Whilst some councils have offered services of remembrance or given service medals, a more lasting tribute would be to embed the names of fallen soldiers to public places at the heart of their communities.

Such commemorations would not glory in war or human suffering but offer a quiet thank you to those who endure unimaginable pressure and difficulties in the name of serving their country. It might also allow grieving families a permanent recognition that their loved one’s sacrifices have been properly recognised.

According to the Epping Forrest Guardian:

EPPING town council will be discussing the re-naming of Stonards Hill play area at their meeting this evening, but has yet again banned members of the press and public.

Councillors have faced huge public opposition after they decided to reject Mayor Ben Murphy's offer to re-name the park after Epping's fallen Royal Marine Georgie Sparks.

But they still refuse to allow other people to attend their meeting, stating that the discussion is confidential.

Georgie's friends and colleagues will be protesting against the council's decision in Epping this evening, outside St John's church at 7.30pm.

I think Epping town council have forgotten just who it is they work for.

I'm all for this form of dedication. When kids ask their parents why their play area is called Georgie Sparks, he will be remembered. I think we also need to increase public awareness that Remembrance Day is not just for remembering the fallen of past wars, but to remember those who are falling today.


Chris said...

So, the Council is holding a "confidential" meeting? These public servants are holding a "confidential" meeting? Just what the fxxx gives with this country?

Gallimaufry said...

If it's not confidential the public will discover which treacherous, unpatriotic scum are against this simple commemoration of a local hero and vote them out. I'm sure a proposal to name the playing ground after, for example, Cllr Snowtintroff of Grabsisperks ward would be voted through on the nod.

John M Ward said...

This looks odd. Yes, of course there are occasions when Council business has to conducted in closed session.

Not only is this common sense (e.g. tender amounts that are commercial information that would be like gold dust to tenderers' competitors, and named council staff in disciplinary hearings) but also covered by statute.

However in this case there seems to be no valid reason for excluding the Press and the public. Even if there are aspects of the matter under discussion that cannot be made public, it should have been possible to deal with other matters (such as this renaming) before such exclusion.

It's what my local council has done for years, providing an "exempt" appendix to members only, and the rest in the public domain. On the night, the chairman of the meeting will warn members that they will need to move into closed session if and when anything from the exempt document needs to be discussed.

It all works well in practice.

In this case I can see no valid reason for not naming the facility in honour of their fallen town comrade.