"They're running roughshod over us" Peter Flannery, Chairman Salford Fusiliers
Salford City Council claims on its website that the £10.76million redevelopment of the Chapel Street area will "celebrate" the "stunning architecture of the area" and "will establish high quality public spaces".
That might well be so. But in the meantime, as redevelopment takes place, the Salford branch of the Lancashire Fusiliers is furious that its landmark Grade II listed memorial on the corner of Chapel Street and Oldfield Road is being damaged and disrespected.
Last Friday, we met two Salford members of the Fusiliers down at the statue, which was opened by King Edward VII in 1905. The gardens around the monument - which were landscaped only eleven years ago at a cost of £83,000 – have been dug up and lumps of rubble surround the plinth, which itself has been badly chipped on two sides. Meanwhile, the plaques around the statue's base have disappeared and a block of concrete was lying on top of a wreath to the war dead.
It all left Peter Flannery, Chairman of the Salford branch of the Fusiliers shocked and disgusted.
"The monument is a total mess" he said "And they haven't even given us the courtesy of saying what's been going on with it. A few months back we had Hazel Blears here with children from a local school planting trees in the garden that was here. Now it's gone and we're not sure where the plaques have gone that should be on the bottom. We should have been told. There's only us here to protect it; it's our job as the Salford branch of the Fusiliers to look after things like this. It's a farce, they're just running roughshod over us."
The war monument was erected to honour the memory of Salford servicemen who fought with the Lancashire Fusiliers, and the Salford branch is looking into whether the trashed garden was consecrated ground containing the ashes of former soldiers.
The Fusiliers are not only angry that their monument has been damaged and disrespected but also that they have not been consulted on plans for its future.
"At least they could have had some liaison with us to discuss what's going on" Peter Flannery explained "We don't know what this is going to be like when it's finished, it might be better than what it was. But give us a bit of respect and tell us what you're doing with it. We should be told what's happening with it and we're not being told. They are just doing what they want.
"I mean, why go through the exercise of having a local MP down here planting trees with local school children?" he added "Also, this monument has to be ready by 11th November for Armistice. What's going to happen then when we come and lay the wreaths on here? I'm not confident this will be finished on time."
Salford Star asked Salford Council for a comment and is awaiting a response…
• The £10.76million redevelopment of Chapel Street is being funded by £8.97 million from the NWDA and £1.79 million under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Salford Council claims on its website that there has been "more than two years of consultation with the community and stakeholders" (obviously not with the Lancashire Fusiliers).
• The aim of the redevelopment, the site states is to "establish high quality public spaces and highways" and that "The stunning architecture in the area will be celebrated"
Photos by Steven Speed
UPDATE - 20th September 11am
Salford Council has just responded...
Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning, said: “ As part of the redevelopment of Chapel Street, detailed plans have been agreed to improve the area surrounding the Shouting Fusilier memorial. This will create a respectful setting for the memorial that is more accessible. The memorial itself has been in poor condition for many years and it will also be refurbished.
“ These plans are backed by The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.The Regiment has taken the view that the monument is a major local feature which deserves a better setting and supports the plans. We are concerned that local former Fusiliers are not aware of these plans. If they contact us directly we will attempt to allay their concerns.”
Salford Star responds: The memorial wasn't in a condition as bad as this before Salford Council got its hands on it...