Residents ‘angry’ at council delay in repairing war memorial ahead of Remembrance Sunday

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents have been left baffled by a council’s decision to delay the renovation of a war memorial ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage (MCCCH) group, which represents residents in the north of Merton, signalled its intention to repair the memorial after it was vandalised last year.

Three of four ceremonial bronze swords were stolen from the side of the memorial in July 2022.

The vandalised Mitcham war memorial (Picture: Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage)

The Grade II listed memorial has stood in Lower Green West, Mitcham, since 1920 and bears the names of more than 500 people from the area who died in the First World War.

Despite the best efforts of the MCCCH in securing a renovation partner, Merton council’s delay in providing the requested information has stifled any chance of the repairs happening before Remembrance Sunday.

Tony Burton, secretary of MCCCH, said: “How frustrating it is that we are having a second Remembrance Sunday with a vandalised war memorial despite our best efforts to fix the vandalism that occurred in summer last year.

“We are somewhat baffled as to why it has been so difficult to move things forward when we have already managed to get the planning consent for the work that’s needed.”

Mitcham Cricket Green War memorial (Picture: Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage Group)

The information needed by the renovator partner hinged on three questions of a 30-question survey that needed to be completed before approval of the works being carried out.

Mr Burton said the information required was basic and required no extra work from the council.

Mr Burton added: “Here we are almost exactly a year later with another set of remembrance services upon us.

“It’s just frustrating. There is a degree of anger, but mainly people can’t understand why it’s so difficult. People were shocked when it happened as it’s a defacement of such an important monument in the area.”

In his official letter to the council, Mr Burton called on Merton council to unblock the delays, and said: “For Mitcham War Memorial not to have been repaired by Remembrance Sunday 2024 is unconscionable”.

A spokesman for Merton council said: “Merton council is not only supportive, but we recognise the value and importance of the war memorial for everyone in the local community.

“The council carried out some refurbishment works last year. Our planning team has helped secure the listed building consent for the works to replace the bronze swords after they were stolen.

“We will continue to work with the group to see how we can support further as a matter of urgency.”

Pictured top: Before and after the swords were removed (Picture: Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage)

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