ANDOVER could be set to have a referendum on whether to move the Cenotaph back to the High Street.
Andover Town Council has decided to form a working group to restore the war memorial and potentially move it back to the High Street where many residents feel it belongs.
The decision was taken at an Assets and Communities Committee Meeting yesterday evening.
The war memorial has been a hot topic of discussion in the town for a long time as there are active campaigns to move it from St. Mary’s churchyard back to the High Street.
The cenotaph was originally installed at the High Street in the 1920s outside the Guildhall, but was relocated in 1956 following complaints it was being desecrated.
The decision to form a working group was voted in favour unanimously. Cllr David Coole said the public has the right to make a decision once and for all.
“Since its removal, there has been ongoing arguments after year after year,” Cllr Coole said.
“Public should be able to decide on where it should be based on a one-time-vote. The public own the cenotaph. The borough council is only a custodian.
“It was paid for by the residents of Andover, the families of those who fell and the public have a right to decide whether it should be returned or not.
“As a resident it grieves me to see this argument being raised every year prior to remembrance day, that it shouldn’t be there, it should be here. The Remembrance day should be remembered for the event itself and not for whether it should be in the right place. So I do strongly urge everybody to allow a public consultation to make a decision once and for all.”
However, cllr Robin Hughes argued that the consultation might not solve the problem forever.
“There will always be some people on one side or the other, and they are never ever going to be happy,” Cllr Hughes said.
“But I’m fine with the consultation. Let’s get it done. Let’s share the cost. But let’s be realistic because it might not solve the problem forever.”
Cllr Christopher Ecclestone suggested the possibility of holding the referendum as part of next May’s election.
“There is an enormous group on Facebook who feel strongly on the issue. They may be outnumbered, we don’t know. There are constant attempts by TVBC to bury the issue. It really needs to be up there.”
Cllr Barbara Long recalled that there was a public meeting on the issue in 2010-11 in which a vote was taken. It came in favour of ‘yes, move it’, but some members objected and asked for a second vote with ‘undecided’ as a third option. The second result was in favour of undecided.
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