Louth town councillors have reacted with disgust after being told that police officers will not be available to cover the full parade on Remembrance Sunday this year - meaning that the ‘return leg’ of the event may have to be scrapped altogether.
Mayor of Louth, Coun Eileen Ballard, informed councillors about the situation at their meeting on September 27, after receiving correspondence from Lincolnshire Police regarding national cutbacks which are set to affect towns all over the country.
In previous years, the Remembrance Sunday parade has featured a march from the Royal British Legion Hall to the War Memorial and then onwards to St James’ Church for the service, before setting off back to the Royal British Legion Hall.
Police representatives had previously been on duty throughout the entire event, but this year they will not be manning the return leg from the church back to the British Legion Hall.
Coun George Horton said: “I think it’s atrocious. We are always mindful of the people who have served this country and mindful of what they gave up - some their lives, some their limbs, fathers, sons, daughters - and I think it’s tragic that it comes down to money.”
He added: “This is the one time of year where everybody comes together and remembers what they should remember.
“I think it’s disgusting that for half an hour - which is what it’ll take to parade from the church to the British Legion - they cannot provide any supervision.”
Coun Pauline Watson agreed: “I have no regard for the police saying they haven’t got any time to do this.
“I think it’s wrong. I think they have a duty on a public remembrance day to pull their finger out and do it.”
Coun Watson added that some people only go along to see the final stretch of the parade, and that they should continue to be able to do so.
Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders said it was a ‘really sad’ situation, despite the financial challenges faced by police forces.
Coun Margaret Ottaway offered a dissenting voice, pointing out that the sheer number of towns and villages wishing to carry out Remembrance parades and services would put strain on the police force’s resources.
She said: “Everybody’s wanting a band and the police, and if you think about all those in this area - if not the country - there are so many people that (the police) are pulled each way, and I think you’re being very unfair.”
Town Clerk Linda Blankley said that she would send the letter from Lincolnshire Police around to all councillors so that they could read the full list of reasons behind the decision, and said: “(The police) are keen to work with people to try and minimise the risk.”
She added that the correspondence acknowledges that there is a ‘significant societal expectation’ that the police force participates, and that the force has always supported the parades throughout the county.
Ultimately, councillors voted to send a letter to Lincolnshire Police to register their discontent.
The Louth Leader has approached Lincolnshire Police for comment.