Town’s pledge over war memorial future

QUESTIONS have arisen about the upkeep of Morpeth’s war memorial.

Currently the monument at Carlisle Park is maintained by Northumberland County Council, but such duties usually fall under the remit of town and parish councils.

And now as the county authority reviews its services, it is looking to pass responsibility for the memorial over to Morpeth Town Council.

But the town’s Finance and General Purposes Committee heard that the move may not be straightforward and there could be legal implications.

Committee Chairman David Parker said: “A lot of the town and parish councils do maintain their war memorials, historically because that is how they arose in the first place, through public subscription.

“In our case the war memorial is slightly different because it is a Boer War memorial.

“It is for the First and Second World Wars as well, but it was originally a Boer War memorial.

“We’re not sure how it was funded because it is part of Carlisle Park and when it was put up Carlisle Park was in the full ownership of the Earl of Carlisle so that particular Earl could have provided it.

“It was 1929 when the subsequent Earl gave the park to the Borough of Morpeth and put a restrictive covenant on the park, which means you can’t sell this or that, and the only way it can be changed is if the present Earl of Carlisle, who lives in Estonia, removes a bit of the covenant.

“It is therefore quite difficult for this council to take the memorial on.”

The authority is working with Northumberland County Council to investigate the issue and is awaiting further advice.

However, councillors were adamant that the maintenance of the memorial will not suffer and said that the town council is willing to take over responsibility.

Coun Les Cassie said: “We don’t have any disagreement that we would not take it on. It has been managed very well and we should continue to do that. We will just have to pay the county council to do it.

“If it is going to be the principle across the whole county how can we disagree with it? The principle of what the county council is proposing is crystal clear. We don’t have any problem with that as a principle, we just need to get the practical detail resolved.”

Members said they hope to receive further details from the county council as soon as possible, before budget plans are drawn up.