Decision over memorial in limbo

The placement of a memorial plaque for Jarrow's war dead is still being debated.
The placement of a memorial plaque for Jarrow's war dead is still being debated.

A DECISION over the placement of a war memorial to South Tyneside’s fallen is still to be finalised.

A plan was originally unveiled to commemorate those Jarrow people killed during the Second World War, with a mahogany and brass nameplate on the outside of Jarrow Town Hall in Grange Road.

Agreement was sought from English Heritage after members of Jarrow and Boldon community area forum (CAF) backed the original memorial scheme.

But after advice from South Tyneside Council’s buildings officers and engineers, who were worried about vandalism, theft and weather conditions, it was suggested that the plaque was moved indoors.

An alternative site outside Palmer Community Hospital in Jarrow was deemed inappropriate.

Councillors were due to debate the plaque’s placement at the CAF meeting on Thursday, but it was delayed further.

Phil Render, the council’s area co-ordinator for Jarrow and Hebburn, said: “Elected members requested officers look at the possibility of another more appropriate site for the plaque and as such it was decided to look at a possible installation near the current war memorial outside Palmer Hospital in front of the old rectory.

“Following a site visit with a council engineer, it was clear that the only appropriate area for installation would be the railings that frame the Cenotaph on three of its sides - we are not allowed to change the Cenotaph itself.

“However, as these railings are part of the rectory, and now in private ownership and also in poor physical condition, it was deemed as not an appropriate site - subsequently the Town Hall is again the most suitable venue.”

Mr Render recommended that members agree to house the plaque inside the Town Hall entrance but that a compromise could be made around the site at Palmer Hospital.

But Coun Emma Lewell-Buck, a Labour representative of the Primrose ward, criticised how long it was taking to make a decision.

She said: “How long is this going to take because it’s been on the agenda for 12 months now?”

Mr Render said that the decision was subject to ownership and cost of the site at Palmer Hospital.

He told the CAF that he hoped to have something back by the next meeting.

Coun Lewell-Buck said she felt it was still too long, as the next meeting was not scheduled until the end of January, and Mr Render promised to work on it as quickly as he could.

There are also plans to create a digitised remembrance book, listing Jarrow’s war dead, which would be available at South Shields crematorium in John Reid Road, throughout the year.

The memorial book is currently kept in the corridor of the Town Hall, but under lock and key, with pages being turned by a caretaker each day.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki