Norwich close to getting war memorial trust

A trust to protect Norwich's war memorials for future generations and prevent a repeat of the debacle which left the city's main monument in a dilapidated state has moved a vital step nearer.

Members of Norwich City Council's ruling cabinet agreed last night to authorise the establishment of a trust to maintain and promote war memorials within the city.

Richard Jewson, the Lord Lieutenant for Norfolk, has already agreed to be one of the seven trustees which will oversee the trust, which will accept donations for the future upkeep of the main war memorial opposite City Hall and the others dotted around the city.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'This is the latest step in the revamp of the war memorial which is starting to get to its closing stages and starting to look as it should.

'This is what we are doing to ensure it stays in the right condition in the future.

'It will mean the city has the capacity to see it as its own monument, rather than the city council's monument.

'We want to establish a trust which can not only keep an eye on the war memorial, but can also take contributions for its future upkeep.

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'During the course of the revamp we had many generous offers of contributions, but in terms of the big revamp they were not on a scale to pay for that and that was very much the city council's responsibility in any case.

'But this would be a restoration fund for sometime in the future and if any unforeseen circumstances arise.'

He said the revamped main war memorial would have a life cycle of at least 60 years and probably longer, but it would be useful to have a fund for future maintenance.

The other trustees will almost certainly include city councillors, but the council hopes people from other backgrounds, including veterans, will get involved to help keep an eye on the memorials in the future.

The trust would have to register as a charity if its annual income is �5,000 or more.

The council closed the Memorial Gardens to the public in November 2004 after engineers identified defects within the supporting structure.

However, the finances for the scheme, which involves repairing the structure of the Memorial Gardens building and turning the war memorial to face City Hall, fell through several times.

Former BBC broadcaster and ex-MP Martin Bell once said of it that you would have to go to war-torn Iraq to find one in such bad condition.

The long-awaited �2.6m refurbishment finally started work in September 2009 after a deal was struck with the Homes and Communities Agency.

Do you think the war memorial trust is a good idea? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email