- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 4th September, 2019 2.00 pm (Item 35.)
Report of the Director of Operations (Highways) and the Operations and Commissioning Director (Neighbourhoods)
The report outlines the work that both the Grounds Maintenance team and Public Realm team undertake to both maintain war monuments and manage memorials that are regularly placed around the area.
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Highways and the Operations and Commissioning Director (Neighbourhoods) that outlined the work that both the Grounds Maintenance team and Public Realm team undertook to both maintain war monuments and manage memorials that were placed around the city.
The Director of Operations (Highways)referred to the main points and themes within the report which included: -
· The total number of War Monuments in Manchester, last confirmed in 2009 was over 550;
· Ownership of these fell across numerous stakeholders including churches, private ownership, Council, other public sector bodies and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission;
· Information on the programme of monument maintenance;
· Information and examples of activities undertaken by the Public Realm Team with friends’ groups to undertake improvements to War Monuments;
· Noting that the Public Realm Team would develop this further and work with the Neighbourhood Teams and Central Communications Team to develop a community engagement plan; and
· Information on memorial maintenance.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -
· Recognising the ultimate sacrifice made by many men and women from Manchester over the years to defend this country, and the importance of respecting and honouring their memory;
· Noting that many war memorials were now kept in storage, it would be better if options were considered to relocate these in schools, noting that this would facilitate children’s learning and also provide a more dignified setting for such memorials;
· Noting with disappointment that many of the war memorials that had been located in the Town Hall had been placed in storage for duration of the restoration works rather than placed on public display or in schools;
· An audit of all war memorials should be undertaken and a list compiled that detailed their location, ownership and state of repair. This audit should include details of relevant Friends Groups and once completed this should be shared with all Councillors;
· An Our Manchester Approach should be used to engage with residents to encourage them to actively maintain war memorials throughout the year;
· A specific strategy should be developed that established an agreed, consistent maintenance and improvement standard for war memorials, including specialist maintenance and repair programmes;
· Council applications for funding needed to be coordinated with community group applications;
· What support was offered to support groups, such as The Royal British Legion when funding was refused;
· What contact had been established with various Faith groups; and
· The report failed to highlight the many positive examples, such as the sensitive relocation of the cenotaph in St Peter’s Square, Phillips Park and the Battle of the Somme memorial located in Heaton Park.
The Head of Citywide Highways responded to the comments by stating that opportunities for relocating war memorials that were currently in storage to schools would be explored and he would discuss this further with colleagues from the Education Department. He informed the Members that ownership details were known but acknowledged that this was not comprehensive. He said that the team were passionate about improving the maintenance of war memorials and they were working with stakeholders to establish a maintenance regime.
The Head of Citywide Highways further commented that Neighbourhood Teams were working to actively engage with local community groups around the issue of maintenance of war memorials throughout the year and to offer support and advice to owners of war memorials. He said that this would be supported by a package of information that would be provided to owners and relevant groups. He further acknowledged the comment regarding the need for the establishment of a specific strategy regarding the maintenance of war memorials.
The Chair commented that this issue cut across a number of Executive Member portfolios and she would meet with them to discuss how this area of work could be progressed. A Member recommended that when an update report on this item was scheduled for consideration that the Executive Member for Children and Schools be invited to attend.
The Committee: -
1. Recommend that an audit of all war memorials should be undertaken and a list compiled that detailed their location, ownership and state of repair. This audit should include details of relevant Friends Groups and once completed this should be shared with all Councillors.
2. Recommend that a specific strategy should be developed that established an agreed, consistent maintenance and improvement standard for war memorials, including any specialist maintenance and repair programmes.
3. Recommend that Neighbourhood Teams adopt an Our Manchester approach to engage with and encourage community groups to maintain war memorials throughout the year. Information on funding that is available to community groups to support this activity is also to be provided.
4. To receive an update report on this activity at an appropriate time.