Support grows for tougher sentences

MP for Blackpool South Gordon Marsden has added his weight to a campaign calling for more severe penalties for the vandalism or desecration of war memorials
MP for Blackpool South Gordon Marsden has added his weight to a campaign calling for more severe penalties for the vandalism or desecration of war memorials
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VETERANS are hoping to take a petition demanding stronger sentences for people who vandalise war memorials to Downing Street.

Nearly 3,000 people have signed the petition, launched by Blackpool ex-service people following the outcry after Wendy Lewis was seen urinating and performing a sex act on the resort’s Cenotaph.

Lewis was handed a 15-week suspended prison sentence, which campaigners said did little to deter vandals.

Crudity

Ian Coleman, president of the Blackpool branch of the Royal British Legion, added: “I felt disgusted such things could happen. What that woman did was only one of a spate of acts of crudity at the Cenotaph. It’s disrespect to the people of Blackpool who have fallen while serving their country. There is no deterrent against anything like this.

“We are letting our service personnel, both past and present, down. We believe the war memorials and their surroundings should be treated as special places and their protection should be rigidly enforced utilising existing laws or new legislation.”

The petition is being kept at the Royal British Legion club on King Street, where people can add their signatures.

Mr Coleman added: “We are delighted with the support. We want a message going out there to say vandalism and crude behaviour at our war memorials is not acceptable. We are hoping to go to Downing Street so the petition can be noted. We want people to know how the public feel.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has signed the petition and Gordon Marsden for his support.”

Mr Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said the resort would always back the armed forces.

He added: “As local MP and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Veterans Group, I’ve been concerned by vandalism and other issues at the war memorials.

“There should be a review of whether the penalties are sufficient. It may be a question of new legislation or stronger advice for the judiciary handing out sentences. Given Blackpool’s reputation of being at the heart of veterans, it’s very appropriate people in Blackpool should launch this petition.”