On 28th July 2018 I wrote to Burgess Hill Council advising them that I had seen a number of the aluminium statues known as “There but Not There” depicting a life size First World War Soldier with his gun and back pack in a small coastal community on the South Coast and was enquiring as to whether might be purchasing one that might stand at the War Memorial Site in Burgess Hill.
On 28th July I received a “Robot Reply” stating that the email had been passed to the relevant department.
On 13 August I wrote to Mr. Julian Thorpe, forwarding the original email and its Robot Reply and asked him to look into it for me.
On 16 August Mr. Thorpe replied advising that unfortunately my original email had “one astray” However, he had kindly made enquiries and advised me that the Council was aware of the aluminium statues but regarded them as “rather expensive” and there were no plans at present for one to be acquired.
I believe that these figures cost in the region of £750 each.
However in a recent copy of the Middy I was furious to discover that there had been a “Jolly” to Schmallenberg that included the Burgess Hill Mayor along with members of the Town Council and the Burgess Hill Brass Band. This was to celebrate the 30 year anniversary for the Town Twinning.
I find it very hard to understand how Burgess Hill Town Council can justify the cost that must have been involved in this Twinning Jolly (I would be very interested to discover exactly how much the trip and the subsequent expenses cost the ratepayers) as opposed to the cost of just one Figure to pay tribute to those men to went to war and who died or were maimed in order that we can live in freedom in one of the most glorious parts of the UK.
Marlborough Drive, Burgess Hill
In response, Steve Cridland, CEO of Burgess Hill Town Council said:
“The Town Council is proud of the role that it takes in the Towns commemorations for remembering the fallen. It equally supports the fostering of friendships and understanding between different cultures and former foes in peace and reconciliation through the concept of Town Twinning. The idea of the aluminium statues, whilst very poignant, would not have the desired impact with a single statue in a town the size of Burgess Hill. Ideally one at each entrance would need to be erected, and there are seven entrances to the town. However, with the extension of the Green Circle and the possible expansion of the Public Arts Trail, there will be another opportunity to consider alternatives ways in further remembering the fallen.
The Council has recently contributed a quarter of the costs of £15,880 to repair and upgrade the War Memorial to ensure that this is maintained to a high standard. It has, as normal, taken a pivotal role in organising the Remembrance Day commemorations, which this year will commence with a lone piper playing a lament at the War Memorial at 6am.
The Remembrance Day ceremony, wreath laying and minute’s silence will take place at the War Memorial at 11am, preceded by the usual parade and followed by a church service at St John’s Church. Along with bell-ringers across the nation, the Sussex Association of Change Ringers will play a Half-muffled Peal of Bells from 12.30pm - 3.30pm at St John’s Church.
Additionally, Burgess Hill will be taking part in Battle’s Over - A Nation’s Tribute by lighting its own beacon in St John’s Park. The beacon lighting will be preceded by a procession from the war memorial led by Mid Sussex Brass Band with residents carrying poppy lanterns. This will be followed by a short ceremony of WWI poems, songs and readings. After a rendition of the Last Post the beacon will be lit at 7pm, followed by a short peal of bells at St John’s Church.
On Friday 9 November there will be a special event at 10.50am to allow our young people in the Burgess Hill Schools to be more involved. The animal memorial will be particularly honoured on this day.
The Town has now been twinned with Schmallenberg for 30 years and during that time frequent exchanges have taken place, as similarly occurs in other local towns such as Haywards Heath. Over this time many long-lasting friendships have developed, and the two town councils have worked closely together particularly in promoting business links. This close relationship has over this time proved popular and beneficial to both towns.
This year we were invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the town charter with Schmallenberg, during their summer festival
The Mid Sussex Brass Band have visited Schmallenberg regularly and both senior and junior band members participate in the visits. Over the years a number of joint concerts have been held with local brass bands in Schmallenberg, and exchanges have taken place and numerous friendships formed. The Town Council provided a grant of £750 towards the costs of the Brass Bands coach for their visit to participate in the celebrations.