Police move puts Black Country Remembrance Day parades at risk

Remembrance Day parades across the Black Country were today at risk after West Midlands Police admitted they will no longer be providing officers for traffic management duties.

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Wolverhampton’s Remembrance Day parade last year. Organisers say the police move will not put the event at risk

A change in policy from the force means that closing roads for the parades to honour fallen soldiers is now the responsibility of organisers – who could face costly bills to pay for professional traffic management contractors.

David Winnick
MP David Winnick

The Short Heath branch in Willenhall has been told it faces a £1,500 charge. And organisers of the Bilston parade say the parade will not go ahead if they have to foot the bill.

A letter to Walsall North MP David Winnick, from Walsall Chief Superintendent Joanne Clews states that at a meeting earlier this month, between police and Walsall branches, members were told that police ‘would not as in previous years be able to resource the physical staffing of the road closures’.

It stated that a decision has been made by the force to introduce a change of policy under which they will no longer provide officers to carry out traffic management duties and enforce road closures for the parades.

Chief Superintendent Clews added: “As you would expect this policy change has clear implications for the viability of the parades.”

Mr Winnick said he will be taking the issue up in the House of Commons.

The force has said it is ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting parades and will be sending volunteers to attend, but closing roads is the responsibility of event organisers.

Cradley chairman Norman Catton said the town’s parade will carry on regardless, but he was outraged at the police’s decision.

He said: “We were threatened with this some years ago at our branch but will hold the parade no matter what.

“The Remembrance Parade is what we owe to the heroes of this country. I’m extremely angry – as far as I’m concerned this is a disgusting attack on the men and women who have served our country. We are collecting money for charity, so why should we spend that money on road closures?”

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Short Heath Royal British Legion leaders said they will not be able to afford traffic management costs. Picture: @HippoGriffinus

Peter Murphy, treasurer of the Bilston branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “If this doesn’t change then we won’t do it, we just won’t be able to. We will be looking into what we can do over the coming months but this is potentially going to mean we won’t be able to host our parade this year.”

Wolverhampton council bosses have confirmed that the city’s main parade will still go ahead.

Spokesman Paul Brown said: “This will not have any impact on Wolverhampton’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations which will take place as usual on Sunday, November 13, 2016.”

But Frank Greenwood, chairman of the Short Heath branch in Willenhall, said: “There is absolutely no way we will be able to go ahead with a parade this year, we cannot get the money together to hire a professional company.

"These parades are the lifeblood of our country, our branches have been putting them together for 80 years because people see it as hugely important that we honour those who lost their lives in the correct way.

“It is tradition and it would be a travesty if people in the West Midlands couldn’t mark this event in the same way as others across the country.”

OldRem 17 PM 08
Veterans take part in Oldbury's Remembrance Day parade in 2015

Malcolm Davis, chairman of the Dudley branch of the Royal British Legion, said it was ‘an absolute disgrace’ that branches may have to fund their own traffic management schemes.

He said: “We have to host these parades, this is our way of commemorating those who gave their today for our tomorrow.

“I highly doubt we would be able to go ahead with our parade if we had to pay for our own traffic enforcement. If we can’t go ahead with it, it would be an absolute disgrace, I hope somebody can step in to help.”

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Veterans pictured at the start of the Remembrance Sunday parade from Top Church in Dudley High Street last year

Halesowen British Legion’s welfare officer Ray Clift said he was disappointed by the police’s decision, but said the town’s parade will go ahead as usual thanks to the support from volunteers.

Mr Clift said: “I’m angry about this and I think the police have got their priorities wrong. I’m not very happy about it at all, but I’m not surprised.” West Midlands Police spokesman Joanne Hunt said the force was ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting parades and will be sending volunteers to attend, but closing roads was the responsibility of event organisers.

While Mark Spillsbury, branch secretary with the Blackheath Royal British Legion, said organisers were in talks with the council for support.

West Midlands Police spokesman Joanne Hunt, said: “West Midlands Police is absolutely committed to actively supporting and attending Armistice and Remembrance Day parades across the force area.

“This commitment will see neighbourhood policing units deciding locally what police presence is appropriate at each event, to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Each year our police officers, special constables, PCSOs and police staff volunteer their time to help manage the parades and pay their respects as well.

“Closing roads is the responsibility of the event organisers who should make arrangements via an appropriate company, not through the police.This is not a cost-saving measure.

“It was established last year that approaches to the policing of Armistice and Remembrance Day parades varied across the force area.

“The policies were therefore reviewed to ensure they were being applied consistently.”

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Comments for: "Police move puts Black Country Remembrance Day parades at risk"

Olly the cat

Does this just apply to Remembrance day parades, or will all parades be subject to the same rule? For instance, the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham. St. George's Day parade. Vaisaki religious festival. Gay pride march etc.

Olly the cat

Does this rule just apply to the Remembrance parade, or will affect other parades as well? Will it affect the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham. St George's Day or Vaisaki religious festival? What about the Gay Pride march? What about closing roads when football teams have an open top bus tour through the streets after winning a trophy? It must be applied to ALL parades when roads are closed, or none.

Thehoffsleftsock

You gotta love the E&S for the daily police bashing, what a totally unfair question to answer, of Cors no one wants to stop st George's parades, but how about, the E&S recognise that the fuzz are now doing the job with hands tied behind there back with a lot less money to do it with,

What should happen is all these silly drunks that turn up at EDL/anti everything protests who get drunk, fight and cost hundreds of thousands to set up should pay for there own protest and national and important parades such as st George's and others (all religions allowed) and provided for free, what's more important after all

We Only Need One Half!

Olly/TheHoff, the St Georges Parade in Sandwell, the largest in the Country, is funded privately from donations in the local community, and has been since the Labour run council withdrew funding in 2009.

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2014/04/21/15000-on-streets-for-st-georges-day/

Mrs Ivy Trellis

Was I in Hospital or on Holiday when we voted for this?

boosterwfc

We voted the Conservatives in on an austerity ticket. May 2015, remember?

Graham

We owe everything to these brave people, certainly far more than we could ever give back so it's imperative these parades are allowed to go ahead and should be funded fully so we may remember, honour and appreciate their sacrifices.

middley

Maybe if they take away the 24 hour guards away from Tony Bliar (don't know why he has got them ) the Police can afford to manage road closures eh..just a thought

We Only Need One Half!

I attend my local Cenotaph in Victoria Park every year, however, if needs be, I see no reason why the RBL could not fund these parades from the millions raised each year, which other wise just seems to disappear into the ether.

Alternatively, why cant the RBL provide volunteers to marshall the parades themselves? give them a Saturday mornings training with the Police if you really feel the need too.

After all, it cant be that difficult to stand at a road junction behind a barrier, can it?

bewildered

How dare we expect the police to prise themselves away from Greggs and perform a civic duty. It may be only a couple of hours for us but its 5 steak slices for them.

Thehoffsleftsock

How about you get off your soapbox and join the special constabulary and show them how to do it, or are you a keyboard warrior, why don't you show us all the way

bewildered

15 years serving HM...done my share.......you ?

Thehoffsleftsock

What hm revenue?, if u were old bill you might have a bit more of an idea,

JohnEveryman

What the article fails to mention (probably because it doesn't suit the police bashing agenda) is that the police have no power to close roads for planned events. Only the local authority can give permission for roads to be closed and when applications are made for road closures, the councils stipulate how the closure is managed.

The police can only close roads in an emergency or for a spontaneous incident. Remembrance Day Parades are not spontaneous, therefore a traffic management plan has to be put into place.

Events like EDL protests and suchlike also attract road closures and these are policed, not to enforce the traffic regulations, but in order to keep the peace.

Many police officers give up their days off to take part in Remembrance Day events, because they have pride in their job and want to do the right thing.

Thehoffsleftsock

You make a lot of sense, I am presuming Overall they mean the cost of policing the event rather than standing on barriers, cos in wolves this year it was air cadets on cordons

middley

So it's a change of policy, which normally means a cost cutting measure, if it's going to cost someone else to replace what you provided that means you have saved on that cost doesn't it ? It's just glossing over the real issue, the problem with Policing nowadays it's full of bean counters, until it gets to the PCC and his "board" of hangers on who cost millions, maybe these PCC's could chip in eh... there again maybe not !

John Drake

I never thought I would live to see the day when the West Midlands Police dishonour the names of the fallen.

How low can they get?

Churchill was right .

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

Its plainly obvious the West Midlands Police no longer work for the people, this policy change must have come from the TOP.

Mr Jamieson get this sorted or RESIGN in disgrace

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