Cenotaph stop ‘an insult’ to war dead

Coun Jim Houldsworth says the new tram stop outside the Cenotaph at North Pier is a disgrace
Coun Jim Houldsworth says the new tram stop outside the Cenotaph at North Pier is a disgrace
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ANGRY veterans have accused the council of disrespect after a tram stop was placed in front of Blackpool’s cenotaph.

They have branded the decision to move the shelter from in front of North Pier to a position alongside the war memorial as “an insult”.

But town hall bosses say the stop will make it easier for people to access remembrance services.

Coun Jim Houldsworth, vice-chairman of the Fylde Ex-Service Liaison Committee, said none of the veterans associations had been consulted before it was agreed to relocate the shelter as part of the £100m upgrade of the tramway.

He said: “We have the roll of honour on our cenotaph from the First World War to the present day and we have service personnel from Blackpool serving on the front line at this very moment.

“How has this council respected this by building the most enormous tram shelter on heritage ground right across the front of the cenotaph without even a word to the veterans or armed forces.

“I consider it to be an insult to every resident, who if they were to look at the family names on the cenotaph would find a connection to them.”

Coun Houldsworth added the tram shelter’s location would restrict use of the cenotaph in future.

He said: “Ours is the busiest cenotaph in the country.

“The area where the tram shelter is was covered with people when we held our services, and we used to put the Blesma (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association) bus there.

“The tram stop outside North Pier was good enough for the Duchess of Cornwall when she visited Blackpool for Veterans Week, so it was obviously in the right place.”

Blackpool D-Day veteran Jim Baker, 90, said: “Anything in close proximity to the cenotaph is a no no.

“It’s not as though another couple of yards would make a difference.

“I object to anything being placed in close proximity to our memorial.”

John Black, secretary of the Blackpool branch of the National Service Veterans’ Association, said; “I think it shows a lack of respect for the cenotaph.

“I’m sure people are prepared to walk 50 yards or so to reach the cenotaph.”

Liz Clayton, who is a member of the Blackpool branch of the British Legion, said: “I’m a standard bearer and we all feel the tram shelter detracts from what is a very tranquil area.

“An awful lot of money has been spent on the cenotaph and it seems ridiculous this is going to totally obliterate it from view.”

John Donnellon, (left), assistant director for planning and transport at Blackpool Council, said the location of the shelters was designed to make it easier for passengers to reach their destinations.

He said: “The intention of putting the tram stops where they are is to give people easy access to facilities such as the cenotaph.

“The veterans would expect to have a shelter.

“The stops have to be of a size to allow the trams to pull up.

“They are of a modern design which is in keeping with the area, and they are aimed at complementing the area around.”