Warring councils row about remembrance

OFFICIALS have said they hope to find a way for two councils to work together to resolve a dispute over the order of wreath-laying at Bognor’s Remembrance Sunday service.

Furious town councillors have criticised plans and have suggesting holding their own service if Arun District Council refuses to back down.

The dispute is centred around the precedence for wreath-laying. The town mayor has always come before Arun’s chairman, but Arun wants the letter of the law obeyed and to go in front

The district council insists it is following a clearly established protocol and hopes to work with the town council to find a solution.

Nigel Lynn, Arun’s chief executive, said the Local Government Act 1972 and local government protocol made it clear a district council chairman should be the leading figure at important functions like Remembrance Sunday, behind only the Queen or her representative.

“Therefore, it would be only right and proper for the chairman of Arun District Council to lay the second wreath at the memorial ceremony.

“It would be disappointing if Bognor Regis Town Council decided to hold a separate Remembrance Sunday event as I would very much hope both councils can work together,” he said.

However, unimpressed members of Bognor Regis Town Council’s policy and resources committee is now urging the whole town council to continue with 
the traditional service with the appropriate organisations, in spite of Arun wanting a change.

Cllr Roger Nash, the committee’s chairman, said: “We are not going to accept this one iota. It’s petty and it’s pathetic.

“If we can’t come up with a mutually satisfactory agreement, we will go ahead with our own service. If Arun don’t want to take part, that will be fine.”

This could be based around the first world war roll of honour at the town’s hospital.

Town council officer Heather Knight told the committee the Royal British Legion was happy to continue with the service from previous years.

Cllr Paul Wells said: “This council has for many, many years – probably since it started (in 1985) –been the organiser of the Remembrance Sunday service outside the town hall.

“For Arun to take such a stance that they have to be the first in the line-up and, if they can’t do that, they will take the event over or pull the plug on it, is simply disgraceful.

Cllr David Edwards said: “There is no love lost in this council chamber for Aurn and it’s things like this that make you understand why.

“I am quite outraged, if I am honest, as someone who has served in the forces and who still takes an active interest in Armed Forces Day on behalf of this council 
and myself.”

Cllr Jeanette Warr said: “The names on the war memorial are the names of the people of Bognor and those are the people we are loving, respecting and thanking.”