Article by Guy Bell: Billericay High Street may not shut on the morning of Remembrance Sunday, as Essex Police says its officers have too many services to attend elsewhere.
The town council faces a £900 bill to close the road and protect the public at the annual event on Sunday, November 8, which attracts 1,500 people.
In previous years police officers have closed the busy High Street at either end ahead of the service at 11am.
Now, town councillors are looking at how they can ensure the popular service can still safely go ahead.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Chairman Councillor Jim Devlin"]The police have informed all councils associated with Remembrance Day they will not be providing police cover to close the roads. We haven't had to close the streets ourselves before, we usually just lay the wreaths. The amount it is going to cost us will be considerably higher than what it would have cost the police.[/quote]
The decision to withdraw will leave a lot of extra work for Cllr Devlin, as the town council assesses their options.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Chairman Councillor Jim Devlin"]We have got to obtain signs between now and the beginning of November. Basildon Council has to check we have got the administrative things right instead of the police just doing it ad hoc. The police reckon they are going to save some money but they are going to cost us a heck of a lot more money than it will save them. The whole thing for us will cost anywhere between £400 and £900 for the sake of an hour or so but there is no other way for us to do it.[/quote]
But making the high street safe is a priority and Cllr Devlin has held talks with Essex County Council to have railings removed close to the War Memorial.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Chairman Councillor Jim Devlin"]Our Remembrance Day service starts with uniformed organisations like the Royal British Legion, various cadets, Guides, Scouts and Beavers. They march down the High Street and then the church leaders sing hymns. There is always a heck of a lot of wreaths. We have noticed a massive growth since 2001 and it has greatly grown each year. Around the war memorial in the middle of the High Street it is full of people. There are probably maybe 1,000 to 1,500 people there so there is no way anything can move.[/quote]
Essex Police have defended their move to back out of this year's memorial service.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Essex Police spokesperson"]We anticipate that there will be more than 80 separate Remembrance Day events taking place across Essex on Sunday, November 8. We recognise the importance of such services to the local community and have provided help and guidance to organisers about planning their event. Many officers will, either formally or informally, attend and support ceremonies across the county on Remembrance Sunday. Responsibility for road closures for pre-planned events lies with the local authority but officers will, as usual, assist at any emergency or traffic incident that occurs during the event.[/quote]
Original article by Guy Bell, Ongar Gazette