Anger at Midlothian war memorial flower beds axe

Midlothian Council’s decision to stop maintaining flower beds at war memorials across the county due to cutbacks has sparked anger.

War Memorial in Newtongrange Welfare Park, photo by Tony Newjem

Community groups across the county were told that flower beds will now be removed and grassed over at various Midlothian war memorials, including at Newtongrange, Loanhead and Bonnyrigg.

Community leaders from across Midlothian have hit out at this decision. However, the council said it would continue to make sure “the areas around war memorials are kept in good condition”, but declined to clarify if this included keeping the flower beds.

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Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny said: “Everybody knows that money is tight and we have got to make savings. But making savings through war memorials is not the answer.

A screenshot of a message from Midlothian Council official Justin Venton to a local community group.

“We have to find other ways to save the money and leave the war memorials as they are.

“I know the council are trying to devolve things to the community to run but there are no grants available.

“We would certainly consider taking on the maintenance of the flower beds, if the council made some money available to help.”

Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council chairwoman Marnie Crawford was upset by the news but is hopeful that the community can rally round and maintain the town’s war memorial flower beds. She said: “It’s appalling news.

“The way it has been set-up here it’s a really appropriate thing to have.

“We have not discussed taking on the beds as a community council yet. But we will see if we can come up with ideas to see who would be interested in taking it on as we would be very sad to see the flower beds lost.

“With a bit of sponsorship or help I would be keen for the community to look at the viability of taking that on because we would just be so sorry to not have that maintained.”

Although disappointed about the news, Newtongange Community Council chairman Jason Ferry has been pleased with the local community reaction to this issue.

He said: “I’m quite pleased there is an appetite in the village to keep it going.

“If we can look to do something there, and on other things in the village, it would be good. The community council can’t take the lead, but if someone comes forward we will support them. We need someone to have regular commitment to the maintenance.”

Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council chairman Robert Hogg revealed that locals Arthur Blackhurst and Margaret Roy have taken on maintenance of the war memorial in Easthouses. He said: “It would be a real shame to see these memorials not taken care of, as they mean so much to so many people in the community.

“What sort of message would it send out to the young people in the community?

“So Arthur and Margaret are happy to continue looking after the Easthouses monument as long as they are able to.”

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for parks, Councillor John Hackett (Lab)said: “We will continue to make sure the areas around war memorials are kept in a good, respectable condition. Indeed a number of communities are already helping us maintain the areas around them. We are keen to extend this so if other community groups or a business would want to support us by doing the same then we’d be pleased to hear from them. Please call 0131 561 5220 or 5345.”