Some War Memorials in 'Appalling' Condition; REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY: Concern over Effect of Maintenance Problems on Monuments

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Byline: STEVE DUBE

THOUSANDS of people will gather at war memorials across Britain this Sunday to pay tribute to the victims of war.

Nearly every village and town collected money to erect the memorials at the end of World War I.

But no one has a duty to look after the monuments.

"The law allows local authorities to spend funds on their maintenance and repair, but it does not say that they must, " said the Royal British Legion's poppy appeal co-ordinator and county field officer for West Glamorgan, Phil Bidwell.

"We would like there to be a more prescriptive role, but from a local authority standpoint, with the best will in the world, their budgets are pinched."

The legion's south-west Wales field officer, Claire Williams, said most memorials were well cared for, with councils prepared to clean them annually so that they looked their best on Remembrance Day.

"Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has a committee with a rolling programme of maintenance and repairs, but other councils have other priorities."

Ms Williams said the issue was complicated by the huge variety of memorials and the lack of any clear lines of responsibility.

"There are problems in the sense that people often want names of relatives added to memorials and that's sometimes not done as quickly as they would wish, but we don't often hear of maintenance problems or vandalism."

One problem is that memorials made out of Portland stone are difficult to clean without damaging the stonework. But the British Legion itself, which focuses on the memorials every November, is not allowed to use its own funds to look after them.

The problems of war memorials prompted the creation of a Friends of War Memorials organisation in 1997, which is now a charity. …