Memorial gets profile boost

Martin Sharp pictured at the Hartlepool War Memorial.

Martin Sharp pictured at the Hartlepool War Memorial.

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ORGANISERS behind a new group aimed at keeping a war memorial clean and tidy are to step up their campaign with the help of shopping centre bosses.

The Friends of Victory Square group has joined forces with Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in a bid to raise awareness about the significance of the memorial.

The memorial is a permanent reminder of the town’s men and women who died in wartime.

Group members agreed to team up with the shopping complex after centre manager Mark Rycraft offered them an area to promote their message at a recent meeting.

The Friends of Victory Square group is also planning on targeting schools and colleges in the town in a bid to educate youngsters.

Hartlepool man Martin Sharp is behind the group, which will also carry out litter picks around the listed structure in conjunction with Hartlepool Borough Council.

Mr Sharp launched the group after he raised concerns about people dropping litter, drinking, playing football and skateboarding on the memorial, off Victoria Road, in the centre of Hartlepool.

The 52-year-old said: “The idea is to have an information stall in the middle of Middleton Grange to ask people what they think about the war memorial.

“We want to stimulate discussion and raise awareness of the importance of the area.

“If we are successful then people will show it the respect it deserves and it will be a better place for everyone.”

An exact date for when shoppers will be able to see the stand is yet to be confirmed.

The meeting, which was held at Hartlepool Peoples Centre, in Raby Road, was attended by residents, councillors and representatives from the Royal Air Force Association, British Legion and Hartlepool Combined Services Association.

A number of issues were raised including litter around the memorial and the need for emergency vehicles to drive across Victory Square. The group members also discussed previous events that have helped raise awareness about the memorial.

Environmental officers from Hartlepool Borough Council also attended.

Irene Cross, the neighbourhood development officer and Alison Carberry, a senior environmental enforcement officer, said the council already cleans Victory Square on a daily basis.

The plinths that surround the memorial have the names of the 1,800 men and women from Hartlepool who died in the Second World War, subsequent conflicts and some from the First World War that were not originally listed.

It is against the law to skateboard in Victory Square, to play ball games or to drink alcohol. The maximum penalty for breaking the by-law is a £500 fine.

For more information call Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA), which is supporting the group, on (01429) 262641.​