Call to include peace groups in war remembrance events

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PEACE campaigners should be included in first world war commemorations around the Arun district, a councillor has urged.

Cllr Paul Dendle said the events to mark the centenary of the start of the conflict should be as wide-ranging as possible.

The cabinet member for environmental services told a meeting of the Arun District Council cabinet the occasion should not be seen as glorifying war.

“The trauma and ramifications of the Great War dominated the 20th century. It’s important we remember that and the fallen,” he said.

“The proposals are sensitive and will help the younger generation understand the historical events.

“We need to be inclusive and we don’t want a glorification of war. We make to make the futility of war clear.

“We need to be reaching out to the peace movement and the white poppies, not that I agree with their position, but we need it to be a healing event for the future.”

His comments came as the cabinet agreed to spend up to £20,000 on commemorating a hundred years since the war began on August 4, 1914.

These include 14 poppy meadows on Arun-owned land such as West Park, Aldwick; Flansham Lane, Middleton; and King George V playing field, Felpham Way and Snook’s Corner, Felpham.

Arun’s assistant director for environmental services, Philippa Dart, said a first world war facsimile newspaper would also be created to reproduce stories and diary excerpts relevant to the district after a campaign to seek stories about the campaign.

Floral displays for the district’s three public war memorials would be created along with work to encourage organisations to obtain grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund to refurbish memorials.

A £500 grant will be given to the Royal Sussex Regiment’s plans for a monument in Priez, France, to recognise its soldiers who died in the war.

Cllr Gillian Brown, the council’s leader, said: “There will have been a lot of Arun residents who died in the regiment and there is no monument to them.”

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Roger Elkins said: “When you think villages were very much smaller in those days, a number of people from one family could have lost their lives. You can’t visualise the impact on families in very challenging times. It’s good for youngsters to be aware of that.”

Cllr Dudley Wensley, Arun’s deputy leader, said: “It’s right councils should be setting the right example. That’s exactly what we are doing.

“A lot of people came back from that war disabled, mentally or physically. We should not overlook that.”

But the cabinet members, did object to an idea to use lamppost banners to raise awareness of the anniversary.

Cllr Ricky Bower, the cabinet member for planning, said: “The trouble with lamppost banners is that they only appear in the towns and the towns have their own uses for them in the summer.”