As we reported this weekend (Saturday 24th October), the government have created a ‘loophole’ in the Tier 3 guidelines surrounding social gatherings outside for veterans, their carers and spectators who wish to commemorate the lives lost in the World Wars, in this year’s Remembrance Day. Many people across the UK rejoiced that they would be able to pay their respects at their local Cenotaph… except the locals of Lytham St Annes.
Unfortunately, Fylde council have chosen to go against the government’s words and announced that they will not be holding a public ceremony during 2020. Many ex-military locals were disheartened by this news, unsure as to why Fylde Council are choosing to go against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
We got in touch with Fylde Council to get a comment on their actions. The communications department responded to our questions:
This is an extremely important event that means a lot to many locals who were frustrated by the lack of response regarding the plans for the ceremony. Why have Fylde decided to go against government guidelines and disallow locals from commemorating lives lost during the World Wars?
“The Government regulations allowing limited Remembrance Sunday commemorations were only published on 12 October, with associated guidance following three days later. The regulations and guidance make it clear that commemorations this year must be significantly scaled-down, and that participants should be kept to a minimum. Under the government regulations, It will be illegal for spectators to attend in groups of more than six, or to mingle with other groups. With that in mind, it would have been irresponsible for the council to have organised an event comparable to the normal commemorations.”
“The limited commemorations that will take place are intended to allow the sacrifices of the fallen to be remembered in a dignified and appropriate way, while complying with legal requirements and public health guidance and as far as possible keeping everybody safe.”
During the peak of lockdown and covid cases, BLM protestors were permitted to gather on the green performing social distancing. At this point we were in full lockdown with no gathering permitted whatsoever and a 1-hour slot to exercise outside. Why was this allowed to take place, but the Remembrance Day ceremony is prohibited?
“The protest at Lytham Green earlier in the year was not organised by the council.”
Was it a coincidence that this announcement was released at the same time as Lytham Festival Line-up? Some locals believe that this was a tactical way of releasing the information in the hopes that the Festival news would overshadow the Remembrance Day announcement?
“The details of the Remembrance Sunday commemorations were issued to local press on Thursday 22nd October, posted to the Council website news section on Friday 23rd October, included in the residents newsletter on Saturday 24th October and posted to the social media pages on the morning of Sunday 25th October.”
Despite the governments recent announcement, the council have chosen not to budge on the matter. We also contacted local councillor Mark Bamforth who refused to comment and denied having anything to do with the decision.
In addition to the government’s announcement, they also released advice to councils of England on how to ensure that those hosting local Remembrance events can do so safely. Measures include reducing numbers, focusing attendance on those wishing to lay wreaths, and observing social distancing at all times.
The government website states that ‘All gatherings involving more than 6 people will need to be organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body. Organisers will also be required to carry out a risk assessment to limit the risk of transmission of the virus.’
This goes against the communications team’s words within their email where they states that it would be illegal for a gathering of 6 or more people during the Remembrance Day Service.
A local ex military man has been pushing for a response from the government for several months as they refused to release information regarding the event. He stated disappointedly: “Myself and several of my ex military mates will be taking part come what may, which is all that matters to pay our respects.”
He added “I was hoping that raising the issue with the public would spark a conversation, enabling other locals to come together and demand a change.”