Merton Council set to replace war memorial garden with gravel
A war memorial, which has stood tall for nearly 100 years in Wimbledon Village, is set to become the latest victim of council cuts.
The memorial on Parkside, which was built in 1919 and commemorates Wimbledon residents whose lives were lost while serving their country, will have its surrounding garden replaced by gravel.
John Humphries, 87, lives directly opposite the memorial and discovered Merton Council’s plans after he spotted a man with a measuring tape on the site two weeks ago.
He said: “It seems they can go ahead and do this to save money without consulting anyone, what a great shame.
“This is the last of the historic green and it’s hardly a very big patch of grass to cut – I know someone who can do it in less than 40 minutes.
"Surely they should be consulting the residents before doing this."
Residents and councillors have complained about overflowing rubbish bins in the borough’s parks since the Council made a number of its full-time park keepers redundant.
The change was necessary, the council said, because it is received a reduced grant from the Government.
In a letter to Mr Humphries, Merton’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Andrew Judge, said the war memorial was “not a core part” of the council’s day to day duties.
Instead the council will replace the grass with bound gravel, which Coun Judge said would cost less to maintain and “preserve a respectful, high presentational standard.”
Norman Plastow, president of The Wimbledon Society historical group, said removing the grass would be a “pity” and questioned why the council could not invite residents or other groups to maintain the memorial.
Mr Plastow said: “There are so many things which are disappearing for good because, bit by bit, we spend a little less and maybe don’t value things like the memorial as we did before.”
This year’s Remembrance Services in November will coincide with the 200-year anniversary of Britain of the Anglo-American War of 1812, when inventor William Congrieve would experiment his ‘Congrieve Rockets’ on Wimbledon Common.
Merton Council confirmed there would be no consultation on their plans.