History Marlowe Way Memorial
PRESS RELEASE: 2nd March 2023
At the Full Council meeting of Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council on Thursday 9th February 2023, the Council approved a proposal for the replacement memorial at Marlowe Way, where the Poppy was previously.
The proposal agreed is for two “Tommy” figures to be installed on the plinth – the Council thanked all the members of the Forever Poppy Group for their hard work and determination to help deliver a suitable installation that reflects the original purpose of this memorial in our town.
In 2021, the Full Council approved the Forever Poppy Group, made up of local residents, to look at a replacement for the Poppy, and to start the fundraising process. This followed a particularly difficult time for the town after the collapse of the original installation, that for whatever reason set resident against resident, with unnecessary exchanges on social media verging on trolling, leading to this becoming a toxic and unpleasant issue within our town.
The Council have now asked Town Clerk & Business Manager, Mark Hopkins, to work with the Forever Poppy Group and the Grounds Team on the next steps, to agree a timescale and ensure the figures are installed correctly.
Will everyone like the new installation, or agree with the decision made, or feel this is the end of the matter, of course not. But, we have received a very kind offer for the new installation, the community group behind this have worked hard to get to this point, supported by residents, and we would ask that people are respectful with future comments and views.
We look forward to seeing the work completed, and something for residents and visitors to enjoy.
PRESS RELEASE: 2nd November 2021
At a meeting on 8 October 2020, Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council gave support to the Forever Poppy Group and agreed to accept the donated funds (once all monies had been raised) to enter a contract with the sculptor to make and install the replacement poppy.
Since then, another group came forward, the Royal Wootton Bassett Sculpture Campaign Project Team (led by the sculptor, Mark Humphries) and presented their vision for a replacement poppy at a meeting on 25 March 2021.
At the same meeting a donation policy, drafted on the advice of the town council’s legal advisors was approved, in which groups/organisations are required to complete when making a donation to the Town Council. Subsequent to this, the Forever Poppy Group submitted the required documentation.
In August 2021, there was a meeting between the spokesperson for the Royal Wootton Bassett Sculpture Campaign Project Team, the Mayor, Councillor Steve Walls and the Administrative Services Manager and Acting Town Clerk, Michelle Temple. This was an amicable meeting but did little to progress the situation as the Royal Wootton Bassett Sculpture Campaign Project Team continued to be unwilling to complete the required paperwork. This would have included the “application to donate” confirming the legal position for any donated sculpture.
When the situation was further discussed by the Town Council on 7 October 2021, it was resolved that the Town Council was unable to progress with the Royal Wootton Bassett Sculpture Campaign Project Team offer as they had not complied with the council’s donation policy. Thus, the Town Council decided to press ahead with the offer from the Forever Poppy Group for a replacement sculpture.
19 07 21: From The Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett, Cllr Steve Walls.
On Friday 16th July 2021, there was posting on Royal Wootton Bassett Community Facebook page regarding the poppy and the offer from Mark Humphries to supply a replacement poppy free of charge.
As Residents will know, this is a long saga which started when the original marble poppy collapsed. The poppy project was certainly not cost free and cost the town well over £100,000 and as it was a structural failure it was not covered by insurance.
It is recognised that there is much interest in the town in having a replacement poppy in place, but before any decision is made there needs to be reassurance on a number of items and therefore the Town Council has to carry out due diligence to ensure the following:
- The structure is sound so an engineer’s report is required. This is particularly important considering what happened to the previous poppy;
- The ownership of the land concerned and whether leasing is practical;
- A financial plan covering the future of the poppy whilst in place;
- Maintenance of the bronze poppy and ensuring regular cleaning and other ongoing costs.
The vast majority of the income of the town council is from the precept, which is from town residents and I am certain residents will wish to know that their council tax is properly spent.
The Town Council appreciates the interest that Mark Humphries is taking in the town and hopes that a decision can be made soon, when all the information and evidence required is available. The planned bronze poppy as proposed is indeed very attractive proposition, but I hope everyone will appreciate that accepting the offer without full information and evidence is not something the Town Council can do.
TOWN COUNCIL RECEIVE PRESENTATION FROM RWB SCULPTURE CAMPAIGN PROJECT
PRESS RELEASE: 7 April 2021
The Town Council welcomed a presentation from the Royal Wootton Bassett Sculpture Campaign Project team at a meeting of the Full Council on 25thMarch 2021. The group’s aim is to see a new bronze poppy installed on the plinth at Marlowe Way and they proposed that a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) would be created to which the replacement poppy would be donated on behalf of the Town. The CIO would rent the plinth from the Town Council and raise funds to cover the maintenance of the proposed Poppy and the surrounding area of the plinth.
The Council are supportive of a statue being placed on the plinth and look forward to receiving further information from the group to include full details on the materials of construction and a business plan to cover the care of the statue once installed.
For further information please contact Steve Nash, Town Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01793 850222 during office hours.
The Town Council would like to thank residents for their contributions – comments/diagrams and suggestions, regarding the Stone Poppy published in the 2018 Winter Edition of Community Magazine. We received 67 replies which were collated and discussed at a Full Council meeting on Thursday 14th February 2019. The minutes of that meeting can be found here. Local resident Tom Patterson will establish a committee to take this project forward.
On 19th October 2017, the town’s beautiful “Forever” stone poppy collapsed.
The Town Council had insured the poppy for £250,000 and accordingly, the insurers instructed Cunningham Lindsey Chartered Loss Adjusters to investigate the claim.
This investigation included an engineer’s report issued by Tobin Consulting Engineers (UK) and commissioned by the original artist Mark Humphrey.
On 21st February 2018, Cunningham Lindsey issued a letter on behalf of the insurers, declining to deal with the claim, saying that the policy specifically excluded “damage to the structure caused by its own collapse or cracking”.
In the hope of persuading the insurers to draw a different conclusion, a further report was commissioned from Plowden & Smith whose stone specialist undertook the investigation. It was their conclusion that “the design of the poppy had put this stone under tremendous tensile stress with no obvious support”. Full details of their report please click here.
They went on to say “In our opinion and based on our empirical experience, this memorial in its present form and design should not be repaired or re-manufactured. If the object is to be repaired and reinstated, a complete redesign using a masonry support should be manufactured to support and cradle the stone using the compressive strength of masonry to advantage. The alternative would be to manufacture the piece in bronze by those with suitable knowledge and experience of the material”.
In light of this decision, the Town Council decided to seek views from the public as to what they would like to see happen. A public meeting was held on 25th September 2018 and was attended by approximately 80 people.
At that meeting the original design artist Mark Humphrey indicated that a fully supported framework poppy could be manufactured for between £50,000 – £60,000, something the meeting overwhelming supported. Councillors are however keen to understand whether this is supported by the wider community.
If the Town Council underwrites £60,000, this represents an extra £15 for a council tax band “D” house. Put another way, it’s the equivalent to the running costs of Borough Field toilets for 4 years, or the operation costs of the town’s CCTV for over 2 years, or the cost of Christmas Lights & Shopping Event for the next 3 years.
With public finances under so much pressure, the Councillors are keen to hear the public views, not only this suggestion but any others that you may have.
Please see the Winter Edition of the Community Magazine coming through everyone’s door. You will be able to submit your ideas to send to the Town Council at 117 High Street SN4 7AU by Monday 17th December 2018; we look forward to receiving them.