'We need to look after them because they looked after us' - Hartlepool war memorial safety plea

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Councillors are calling for safety work to be carried out around a war memorial to help make it more accessible for veterans.

Cllr Sue Little and Cllr Leisa Smith have been campaigning to carry out the improvements at the war memorial on the green in Seaton Carew for around three years.

Speaking at Thursday’s Hartlepool full council meeting, the independent Seaton councillors raised concerns over the cobbled pavement and uneven surface around the site.

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They said it needs to be made safer for elderly residents and veterans, and more accessible for wheelchairs, adding they would even be willing to pay for the work themselves.

The war memorial at Seaton Carew.The war memorial at Seaton Carew.
The war memorial at Seaton Carew.

However council chiefs said they are currently not able to pay for it as the site it is deemed a village green and permission is therefore required from the Government.

Cllr Smith, speaking at the meeting, said: “In supporting the armed forces, in Seaton we don’t feel that we are getting the support.”

After being raised by Cllr Little, councillors at the meeting agreed to begin the process to request that the council adopt the land.

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She said: “Your heart’s in your mouth when they go to pay their respects and we need to look after them because they looked after us.”

Cllr Smith, speaking after the meeting, added: “All we want to do is get rid of all that unevenness and make it so that you can get a wheelchair up there or somebody can easily walk and put their wreaths down.”

The councillors also raised concerns about how road closures are not put in place around the Seaton memorial for any events, such as Remembrance Sunday, and they have to take any actions themselves.

Denise McGuckin, council managing director, stressed they will support the war memorial and the councillors wherever they can.

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Speaking at the full council meeting, she said: “I know it’s a very difficult one, you need Secretary of State approval to adopt that land because it’s classed as village green and that is a lengthy process.

“Whilst I empathise with the issues that you are raising, if you do carry out those works you are, in the eyes of the law, taking responsibility and if anyone hurts themselves on that then you haven’t got the insurance and indemnity.”