No way to remember them – Brighton’s War Memorial left in ‘disgraceful’ state

Posted On 17 Aug 2020 at 1:38 pm

The War Memorial in Brighton was in a “disgraceful” state on VJ Day, prompting an angry broadside from the former leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

A wreath at the Old Steine War Memorial in Brighton marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War

Mary Mears wrote to fellow councillors and senior officials about “how disgusting and unkempt” the Old Steine memorial and gardens were.

VJ Day on Saturday (15 August) marked the 75th anniversary of “Victory over Japan” and the official end of the Second World War.

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Up to 85 million people died as a result of the six-year war, including 450,000 British men and women and millions from countries now forming the British Commonwealth. A further 376,000 British military personnel were wounded.

The mayor of Brighton and Hove also commemorated VJ Day. Councillor Alan Robins marked the occasion at the War Memorial in Portslade.

Councillor Mears wrote: “Today is VJ Day, a national event to mark the end of World War II.

“As Chairman of Brighton and Hove Royal British Legion, I attended with my standard bearer to lay a wreath at the Old Steine War Memorial.

“I have attached some photos showing the disgraceful state of the War Memorial.

“There are nearly 3,000 names listed. What a terrible way to honour our fallen.

“It is not necessary for councillors to answer that they don’t support war.

“VJ Day is not about celebrating war but to mark the end of World War II and to remember all these men and woman who lost their lives to give us peace so you can voice your opinion.

“Some members of the public stopped to pay their respects and remarked how disgusting and unkempt the War Memorial was and clearly the council could not care less about its upkeep.

“As someone born and raised in Brighton I could not agree more.”

Councillor Mary Mears

The former Conservative leader said: “In all my years I’ve never seen it so bad.

“People have left food and drink leftovers and wrappers on the grass although to be fair there was a cleaner litter picking.

“VJ Day marked was the end of the Second World War 75 years ago. A lot of people called the war in the east the ‘forgotten war’.

“It’s a shame the council seems to has forgotten it – and the sacrifice made by all those who lost their lives.

“It’s a national event. They should have at least made it look as though they cared.

“They’ve got the time for cycle lanes but not to power wash the pavement. It’s no way to remember them.”

The Old Steine War Memorial in Brighton

The council said: “We are sorry for the poor appearance of the Old Steine War Memorial on VJ day last weekend and the distress this has caused.

“We always prepare the memorial for Remembrance Week and we apologise that this date was missed as  VJ day has not been commemorated locally in previous years.

“The memorial had been jet washed last month but had clearly deteriorated since then.

“We have an annual programme of remembrance events and, to ensure the memorial looks at its best, the preparation and cleaning of the Old Steine War Memorial is programmed to begin on Monday 2 November.

“We are currently arranging a full clean of the War Memorial by our specialist stone contractors as soon as possible.”

  1. Ken Norman Reply

    Well done Mary! There doesn’t seem to any respect these days but I would have hoped that the Council would maintain the Memorial throughout the year!
    Also there should be a ban on anyone using any part of the area for picnicking let alone leave leave their rubbish behind.
    There are plenty of bench seats in the area but they also appear to be neglected and dirty!
    Perhaps there should be some notices telling people what ‘not to do’?

    • Sharon Angell Reply

      Well said Ken, this is such a sad situation. The Council should surely look after this memorial, for the many that gave everything the few seen to give nothing in return….shame on you,me and everyone who accepts this situation as ok. Brighton and Hove desperately needs some TLC it looks shabby and far from chic.

  2. Joan Higgins Reply

    I am greatly saddened to read the report and see the photograph concerning the disgraceful state of the Brighton War Memorial.

    I have a granddaughter who is about to enter the third year of her Degree Course at Brighton University and fear that the neglect of this Memorial by the Local Authority is a vey bad example for her and all the other younger generations in the Brighton area. I suggest that the Authority act to reverse the situation
    as soon as possible and certainly before Remembrance Day this year which I would remind them is on Wednesday the 11th of November in case they have forgotten!

    • Emma Reply

      If you read the article you’ll see the council’s apology and response including the date on which the pre-Remembrance Day clean up preparations are sure to begin.

  3. Andrew Reply

    Surely the headline “Former council leader in desperate plea for relevance” is more appropriate?

    That said, not cleaning the war memorial is a bit of an own goal.

  4. Greens Out Reply

    Walked past it yesterday and noticed how vile it looked. Bird crap and rubbish all over it.

    Still. Greens couldn’t give damn about this town anyway.

  5. Nigel Reply

    Yes it is in a disgusting state pretty much the same all over Brighton. Council needs to take note.

  6. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It should be spruced up as part of the work that is being done in the area.

    We are still living with everything which followed those billiard balls colliding towards the Great War. Nations had no idea of what they were doing ahead those random events that day in Sarajevo.

    • Nigel Furness Reply

      Good morning, Christopher. you have raised two issues here and as usual you’ve got them both wrong!
      Firstly you say that: “The Memorial should be cleaned up as part of the work going on there.” WRONG–the memorial should never have been allowed to get into that deplorable state in the first place. As is invariably the cas, Mary is absolutely RIGHT to point out that it should be constantly maintained to a high standard in order to remind present and future generations of that poignant message from from those brave souls who fought and won amid horrendous conditions in the Burmese jungle against a relentless and savagely cruel enemy: “WHEN YOU GO HOME TELL THEM THAT WE GAVE OUR TODAY FOR YOUR TOMORROWS.”
      And to think, Christopher, that all those years ago, when you were delighted to be associated with with that populist movement CAMPAIGN!! for a BETTER BRIGHTON & HOVE, you delighted, anonymously of course, in ‘putting the boot in,’ via the Private Eye magazine to the then Labour Council of being: “ALL FUR COAT AND NO KNICKERS” and “SKIDROW ON SEA,” because they were only interested in vanity projects to the detriment of BASIC MAINTENANCE!
      Fast forward twenty-odd years and WHAT WENT WRONG?–Oh! I know–along came those radically different ‘Greens’ to mess with your head, only to turn into the worst PARTY POLITICIANS of them all! How sad.
      As for the second issue which you raised, that: “The Nations of Europe didn’t know what they were doing”—HOW NAIVE CAN YOU BE?!!!
      The Germans (or should I say the Prussians) KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING! Way back in 1866, under their Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, famed for his rallying cry of: “GUNS BEFORE BUTTER,” during his campaign to unite the 300-plus Germanic States into one expansionist nation, he had first to defeat Prussia’s greatest rival in this quest, Austria, whom he swiftly despatched via the AUSTRO-PRUSSIAN WAR of that year.
      Next it was the turn of Denmark, a couple of years later, in the BATLLE OF SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, when those two Danish States were annexed and finally, in 1870, France was swiftly defeated in the FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR, ceding the region of ALSACE-LORRAINE in the process.
      Bismarck lost no time in signing mutual-defence treaties with the bulk of the Germanic people remaining outside his FIRST REICH at that time, the Austrians, and then what remained of the dwindling OTTOMAN EMPIRE ( the Turks), who were disparagingly christened: “THE SICK MAN OF EUROPE,” as a result of having lost their sizeable Balkan Empire to newly emering states, foremost amongst them the expansionist and woul-be IMPERIALIST SERBIA! who were intent on removing the AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN HAPSBURGH EMPIRE from apart of BOSNIA and also SLOVENIA, in the far north of the Balkans, in pursuit of their GREATER SERBIA dream (the future Yugoslavia).
      Quite obviously, as a direct result of the looming threat posed by the bourgening and now, rapidly industrialising and ARMING GERMANY, the neighbouring (IMPERIAL) States were gravely alarmed, leading to not only an unprecedented arms race but the signing of Mutual Defence Treaties between GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE & Russia.
      Now, all the co-ordinates were in place! These were the ROOT CAUSES of the FIRST WORLD WAR– enter, NOT RANDOMLY, Christopher, but DELIBERATELY and OPPORTUNISTICALLY–for the RUSSIANS, (being fellow Slavs), had meanwhile guaranteed to protect the SERBS against ALL aggression, a certain SERBIAN NATIONALIST to assassinate ARCH-DUKE FRANZ FERDINAND AND HIS WIFE, heirs-apparent to the HOUSE of HAPSBURGH.
      His bullets provided the IMMEDIATE CAUSE of this war and the rest, as they say is HISTORY!
      As we all know, GERMANY, defeated in 1918 at the end of that war, rose again under the NAZIS only to suffer a second defeat at the hands of GREAT BRITAIN, the SOVIET UNION, the UNITED STATES of AMERICA and all the wonderful patriots of the many RESISTANCE movements across the whole of Europe.
      How I wish that that would have been an end to the wars in Europe but no, those Germans weren’t finished with us all YET!!—FAR FROM IT!
      In no time they had reared their IMPERIALISTIC heads again, only this time, in concert with a collection of QUISLINGS from five of their neighbouring states, and under the banner of the EUROPEAN COAL & STEEL COMMUNITY which has now metamorphasised into it’s real and ultimate form—that EVIL EMPIRE otherwise known as the EUROPEAN UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS–Right back to square one, you may think, BUT YOU’D BE WRONG!!
      Thanks, once again, to the common sese of a CLEAR MAJORITY of the British Electorate at the REFERENDUM of 2016, our country is now well on the way to regaining our sovereignty and, mark my words, that was the beginning of the end for this disastrous, woul-be, some might think, FOURTH REICH.
      As I said on that morning whilst the sun rose in a fittingly blue sky, whilst representing the victorious LEAVE side as their AGENT: “Where Britain leads, others follow; on that dark day back in 1940, we stood alone against the massed tyrants on the other side of the Channel. We didn’t run away, we stood our ground against the might of Hitler’s hordes and in so doing, we saved Europe from them. WHAT WE HAVE DONE THIS DAY IS TO SAVE EUROPE FROM THEMSELVES!—Only, they’ve yet to realise it. In time they will once more have cause to GET DOWN ON THEIR BENDED KNEES IN GRATITUDE TO US! I HEREBY PRONOUNCE THE DEATH SENTENCE ON THE EUROPEAN UNION!
      Pity you and your one-time friend CAROLINE LUCAS couldn’t bring yourselves to be there, Christopher–but I get it– you simply couldn’t stomach the bitter taste of defeat, BUT YOU WILL!!
      So in futuree, Christopher, you’d be well advised NOT to make flippant remarks on historical matters which you clearly know nothing about or you’ll find yourself in danger of rendering yourself RIDICULOUS.
      I’d advise you to reserve your writing ‘skills’ for “CARRY ON MOVIES”–there you DEFINITELY have the edge over me–but certainly NOT when it comes to HISTORY–you’d need to be up VERY EARLY–and anyway, I’m getting on now, you know–I really DON’T have the time to teach YOU many more lessons!

  7. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    It ill becomes Andrew to take a cheap politically-motivated swipe against Mary Mears. The fact is that anyone at all (other than yobs) seeing the state of the War Memorial would have said the same. Respect is maybe due for all the guys that died, irrespective of the political views of anyone at all.

    This is not actually political though. This is just symptomatic of the general neglect (and lack of pride – small ‘P’) that the council – officers and staff – exhibit in this city, which I would suggest is all down to the utterly useless CEO.

  8. Chips and Beans for Supper Reply

    What do you expect from a Green council? Many of us remember Green councillor Ben Duncan referring to soldiers as ‘baby killers’ in a Tweet

    I would expect nothing less from the incapable, incompetent Marxist Green Party. Clearly, keeping this monument looking decent isn’t ‘woke’ enough…

  9. Paul Hove Reply

    Next month the greens will be knocking it down for another unwanted unused cycle lane.
    Dirty, disgusting, rat infested… Memorial is the perfect example of our council

  10. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    If council officers feel unable to do anything about this disrespectful and unacceptable situation until the week before Armistice Day, so that it all looks good on Nov 11th, many weeks away, then I have a suggestion. Get some people who have been sentenced to community service to do it, pronto, and at the same time, tell them in simple words they might possibly understand what the memorial is all about and why it is important to a lot of people, including them, although they wouldn’t know it. After all, they might not even be here, and free to do whatever it is they have done, had it not been for the people commemorated on the war memorial. That would be free labour, but there is no excuse whatsoever for the council neglecting their responsibility at what must be minimal cost and part of the general cleaning routine.

  11. Billy Reply

    I want to know the truth behind this story.
    Is our council now so short of money that basic services like regular cleaning of this memorial are no longer on the list of maintenance jobs?
    Or are many cleaning staff still on furlough, being paid to sit at home while many of us went back to work some months ago?
    Or is the war memorial no longer a priority because the current council leaders see any memorial as celebrating something they disapprove of?
    Or is the council administration just plain incompetent?
    Regardless of all of the above, and regardless of who we voted for, something is going badly wrong here.
    What’s the excuse this time?

  12. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    I think it’s just total incompetence and apathy, Billy, which, sadly, is what we have come to expect over recent years.

    And I don’t think it’s the political administration as such – rather it’s whatever department is supposed to be in charge of keeping the city cleaned up (other than bins), which they don’t.

    When a council has a CEO who some years back presided over the department which allowed a catastrophic bin strike to happen and continue, and then he got promoted to CEO, need one say more? He’s invisible, unlike most of his predecessors.

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