Anger at plans for future of square

Mark Swinburn infront of area to be paved next to the war memorial.
Mark Swinburn infront of area to be paved next to the war memorial.
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Plans to pave over a grassed area next to a war memorial have been condemned by residents.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition in a matter of days against proposals by Cramlington Town Council to remove the grass from next to the historic memorial.

The plans were unveiled last week to pave over the grass-bedded area.

The Village Square is within a conservation area, donated by the then Lord Ridley in 1922 when it was unveiled as a memorial with park and gardens.

Every year, thousands of local people flock to the site to pay their respects during Remembrance Sunday and the site is widely recognised as an outstanding cultural icon.

As part of the plans, the town council made public its consultation process last week but objectors say they have been given no opportunity to object to the scheme or indeed offer alternatives to block paving over the grass area.

Cramlington resident Mark Swinburn, who set up the petition, said: “I was horrified to discover the paving plan but also dismayed that the consultation was in fact a predetermined outcome with no chance to refuse, alter or improve the scheme.

“It is totally unacceptable to have this in the historic heart of Cramlington.

“It is turning our village square into little more than a glorified drinking plaza in front of a memorial commemorating the deaths of local heroes in wars.

“This is an outrageous and badly-conceived scheme.”

The council is currently asking local people and businesses what other events and activities they would like to see held in a new-look Town Square, including the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights.

Council chairman Jean Whisson said: “The plans we are considering are to level the rectangular flower bed, creating a flat paved area suitable for events such as craft markets, musical entertainment from choirs or school groups, fund-raising events or food and drink fairs.

“Cramlington has expanded rapidly in recent years and it would be wonderful to have somewhere like a proper Town Square to bring people together and have a real community feel.

“We would like to get views on this plan and any ideas of what people would like to see the new Town Square used for.”