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Row brewing over new access plan for Hartlepool war memorial

Headland War Memorial. Picture by FRANK REID
Headland War Memorial. Picture by FRANK REID

A row is brewing over council plans to create a new permanent access to a Hartlepool war memorial.

Councillors will be asked next week to agree £77,000 of funding for works to the Headland including a new access to the war memorial in Redheugh Gardens.

Headland and Harbour councillor Mike McLaughlin

Headland and Harbour councillor Mike McLaughlin

It follows claims that disabled people, including those in wheelchairs, are unable to lay wreaths at the memorial which is encircled by grass.

One able-bodied man is said to have fallen over while walking on a temporary metal walkway on Remembrance Sunday last year.

But there is opposition to any alterations to the Grade II listed monument including from John Cambridge, chairman of Headland Parish Council, over fears it will damage the character of the memorial and claims it is unnecessary.

He said: “A few residents have told me they don’t want anything. It’s 98 years old.

“It is disabled accessible now. It’s all level.

“I don’t see why they have to spoil it just for one day.”

Mr Cambridge and ward Councillor Shane Moore claim last year’s fall was because the metal path was not fixed to the surface properly.

Detailed plans for what form the new access would take are not yet known while the decision on the funding is pending.

Coun Moore said: “If they are talking about putting three or four paths in it would dramatically change the aesthetic of the gardens.

“If it was maybe one path done sympathetically I think people would be a bit more receptive to it.”

Coun Moore said residents should be involved with any proposed designs to gain consensus.

Fellow Headland councillor Mike McLaughlin is backing the permanent access.

He said: “The grass may be flat, but can be boggy when wet, thus unsuitable for wheelchairs and unsafe for those with increased walking needs and support.

“Many people pay their own respects through out the year not just on Remembrance Sunday.

“Remebrance Sunday is a national day of remembrance when all members of our community should be able to partake.

“It is discriminatory and disrespectful to disabled citizens and veterans if they are unable to join their community.

“I’m saddened but not surprised that my ward colleague Coun Moore would provide potential opposition to improve disabled access to the war memorial on the grounds it may not look as nice.”