A COUNCIL has defended itself after being blasted for removing tributes placed by a statue that honours fallen men, women and animals in World Wars 1 and 2. A row broke out in Pershore after Wychavon District Council removed items that had been placed on the base of the Warhorse Memorial in Abbey Park.

Evesham Journal:

Founder of the project Sue Cosnett said she was heartbroken to find all the tributes gone on Thursday evening and posted on Facebook asking for their return, suspecting them stolen. The post was widely shared across Facebook with residents searching the town. It was later revealed an email informing her they were being moved did not arrive.

Mrs Cosnett said: “I am so upset by the removal of these items without even speaking to me. I never received the email otherwise I would have responded straight away. Most of those items have been lovingly donated by people and during lockdown, I used some of my daily exercise allowance to weed and maintain the area.”

Phil Merrick, Head of Economy and Environment for Wychavon District Council, said: “A number of items, including gnomes and garden lights, were removed from the war horse sculpture by our parks team, as they were deemed to be inappropriate, in poor condition or detracted from the sculpture and what is an award-wining, well maintained park environment. This action is consistent with how we manage other sculptures and war memorials elsewhere in the district.

“The main fund-raiser behind the sculpture was given 10 days advanced notice that this action would be taken, so people could recover any items they wanted to keep. They were then removed five days after the end of the notice period. Unfortunately, we are told this notice was not received due to a technical error at their end. This has led to much confusion, miscommunication and upset which we sincerely regret and apologise for. We have contacted the main fund-raisers to arrange a meeting, so we can work together to agree guidelines for appropriate tributes that can be placed on, or around the sculpture, in future. We will ensure these guidelines are properly communicated. The sculpture is a magnificent addition to the park, one we supported by paying more than £4,000 for the base and surrounding landscaping. We want to work with the people that worked hard to fund-raise for it, to ensure the sculpture’s beauty, message and symbolism can be appreciated in an appropriate way.”