A community fears for the future of its war memorial garden after the mayor announced proposals to build upon it.
Wirksworth residents were alarmed after reading an article by the town’s mayor Alison Clamp in a community magazine that the council was considering building upon the memorial garden, in St John’s Street, and moving the memorial stone.
In the article Councillor Clamp stated: “Initial ideas are to rebuild the hall to a much better standard with a landscaped public garden beside it, possibly with some houses or flats which would help finance the project.”
She added: “Research shows that the stone memorial has been relocated once already and that the garden itself, whilst an appropriate setting for the memorial stone, was not conceived as part of the memorial.”
The article has sparked fury among some residents and a petition has been set up to save the memorial gardens.
John Taylor, 70, of Wirksworth, said: “It seems like they are scraping up money at the expense of the memorial gardens.
“I felt so incensed when I read it.”
He commented he thought that in France or Belgium it would be unheard of to move a war memorial.
“It seems it’s okay for our town mayor to say it’s okay for us to do though,” John added.
A spokesman for the council said: “The town council has no plan in place to move the memorial stone which it maintains along with its garden setting.
“Some slight remodelling of the garden is being considered to enable the preservation of the area close to the stone and the growing community use of the space.
“The council is looking at long term plans for the redevelopment of the Memorial Hall, the building is well used but is in need of updating and repair.
“The possibility of redevelopment has been partly precipitated by the planning application made by Stones for their building. This possibility of co–ordinated plans for the area of the two buildings is being investigated.
“A key consideration in looking at possibilities is to retain the memorial stones within a dignified and quiet garden setting.
“All investigations are at a very early and tentative stage. If and when plans develop, the people of Wirksworth will be fully consulted.”
Deputy mayor Andy Pollock said: “The memorial gardens will be slightly redesigned for the better and we’re looking at the future of the memorial hall.”