New war memorial project edges forward after delay

Balm Green gardens war memorial
Balm Green gardens war memorial
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WHEN Graham Oxley was Lord Mayor of Sheffield, one of his priorities was raising money for a monument to those from the city who have died in conflicts since the Second World War.

Despite £12,000 being generated, and a location being designated in a council-owned garden in Balm Green, near the Barkers Pool traditional war memorial, the ambition was held up by “red tape”.

playram''See picture attach of local Chapeltown Lib Dems with Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed and members of Friends of Chapeltown Park at the site where the new play equipment will be, (l-r) Cllr Victoria Bowden, Graham Oxley Chair of Friends of Chapeltown Park, Cllr Colin Taylor, Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, John Bowden and Doris Denton Secretary of Friends of Chapeltown Park'Chapeltown scheme is one of 12 which have been saved from the axe after council found extra funding

playram''See picture attach of local Chapeltown Lib Dems with Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed and members of Friends of Chapeltown Park at the site where the new play equipment will be, (l-r) Cllr Victoria Bowden, Graham Oxley Chair of Friends of Chapeltown Park, Cllr Colin Taylor, Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, John Bowden and Doris Denton Secretary of Friends of Chapeltown Park'Chapeltown scheme is one of 12 which have been saved from the axe after council found extra funding

Now Coun Oxley, whose year of office ended in May 2010, hopes the scheme can proceed without further delay.

A planning application has been submitted for a four-metre-high steel obelisk with a stone carving at the centre designed by local sculptor Andrew Vickers. The theme is of a woman peering into a pool with the reflection of a soldier peering back.

“Things are moving forward at long last,” said Mr Oxley, who has since stood down from the council. “It’s been 15 to 16 months and I have spent a lot of time and effort talking to the council.”

It is hoped that new memorial could be ready by Remembrance Sunday in November. Mr Oxley said: “I am not absolutely convinced we can do it but we’ll certainly work towards it. It all depends on how quickly the planning application goes through. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to get it ready for Remembrance Sunday but I don’t know.”

The former Lord Mayor used his position to start the ball rolling for a place to remember local soldiers, sailors and airmen who have died in conflicts ranging from the Korean War to Afghanistan.

“In the last few years, quite a few people have approached me asking for a war memorial in the city centre for members of the armed forces who have fallen since World War Two,” he said.

“There is a national monument in the Midlands but nothing in Sheffield, even though we have a Walk of Fame outside the town hall for Sheffield ‘legends’. I said I’ll see what I can do and I am keeping my word.

“Balm Green Gardens seems to be the appropriate place. There are seats and disabled access. They look rather rundown and this will give them a new lease of life. People will be able to sit there and pay their respects.”

Mr Oxley has been frustrated by “totally unnecessary” delays in reaching agreement on the details with the council, especially since city surveyor Gerald Duniec and architect Peter Noble, of Coda Studios, are giving their services for free and sculptor Andrew Vickers, who is based in Dungworth, is working at cost.

The council agreed to waive the normal costs associated with a planning application but this had been rejected, said Mr Duniec. The costs were being met by Coda.

“We have turned down the council because they should have been doing this 16 months ago,” he said. “They just left it on their desks.”

Mr Duniec wrote to the council’s chief executive John Mothersole several times to complain about the delays which he claims has been caused by council officers.

There had even been the promise of an investigation into the delays, but nothing had happened, he said.

“Personally I believe the council is very embarrassed and I am determined to find out who was at fault.”

The council says it is keen to support the project and has admitted that “with hindsight, we could have made it quicker”.

But it was a sensitive proposal in a sensitive location and everybody had to get it right to maintain the council’s record on public realm projects.

The authority plans to spruce up the whole of Balm Green when money becomes available – with funds potentially earmarked from developers as a condition of planning deals in the area.

No names will go on the memorial but they will be listed on a website.

lPlanning application 11/02245/FUL.