Walsall Poppy Day parades hit by lack of police
Parades on Remembrance Day in the Walsall borough will be re-routed after it emerged the number of police officers covering this year's event will be cut by almost half.
West Midlands Police has revealed that all 11 parades, which take place in Darlaston, Aldridge, Bloxwich and Pelsall can still go ahead in the town this year.
But the routes, officers say, will be 'tweaked' – although they will not reveal all routes affected.
It is believed there will be around 39 officers available to close roads and divert traffic compared to 72 last year.
Community leaders have called on West Midlands Police to prioritise resources so Remembrance Sunday ceremonies are not adversely affected.
Darlaston South Councillor Doug James said: "It is disgraceful that on the day when my town, and all the towns in Walsall, join the country in remembering our war dead that we can't deploy enough officers to ensure our traditions.
"Each town centre has their own and particular route to honour local men and women, which they have being doing for decades.
"I know the police are doing their best in very difficult circumstances but surely this is one cut too far."
Jeff Johnson, who organises the parade in Darlaston each year, has spoken to police chiefs regarding changes with the route, but it was yet to be finalised for the town.
The parade usually starts from Victoria Road and travels to St Lawrence Church for a service and the laying of wreaths.
The 65-year-old, of Darlaston, who also organises the poppy appeal in the town, said: "What it's going to be this year, I'm not sure. I've given them a route starting from the town hall in Victoria Road, the traditional starting point, but they want it to start from King Street.
"It is disappointing. We've done it in a particular way for so many years but we are confronted with the reality of there not being enough police officers to police it."
Walsall Police Superintendent Lee Kendrick said the force had secured officer resources from Walsall.
He said some student officers who are new to the organisation had also welcomed the opportunity to help out on the day and staff the road closures.
Supt Kendrick added: "It means all 11 parades in the town can go ahead but some routes have been tweaked and we appreciate organisers being flexible."
It was revealed earlier this week that a total of 677 police officers and staff were drafted in to manage the latest EDL march in Walsall during August, including more than 450 officers on the ground.
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