Critics of MP photographed honouring the dead accused of ‘personal vendetta’

PUBLISHED: 18:23 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:43 09 November 2020

MP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on Facebook

MP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on Facebook

Archant

Photographs of NE Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay at a Remembrance Sunday event have caused upset - because it was understood the event had been cancelled.

MP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on FacebookMP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on Facebook

Wisbech Town Council posted on its Facebook page last week “that there would be no remembrance service event at the war memorial” on Remembrance Sunday (November 8).

“The reason for this decision is that whatever measures were put in place, the council would be unable to guarantee that such an event would be Covid-19 safe.”

But a row erupted today (Monday) after photographs appeared of the MP paying his respects on Remembrance Sunday at the Wisbech war memorial as some constituents felt it looked as though an event still went ahead.

Mr Barclay wrote that “honouring those who have given their lives in war on Remembrance Sunday has been an important national event for more than 100 years.

Cllr Steve Tierney argued the Remembrance Sunday event in Wisbech was cancelled by the Royal British Legion. Pictures: ArchantCllr Steve Tierney argued the Remembrance Sunday event in Wisbech was cancelled by the Royal British Legion. Pictures: Archant

“Commemoration services are very different this year but that does not mean we can’t pay tribute and reflect on the sacrifices made by many during difficult times.

“It was a privilege to join Toby North and the British Royal Legion at Wisbech war memorial at 11am to lay a wreath on behalf of all constituents. Current circumstances restrict activities, but it is important that we always remember those who gave their lives to secure our freedom.”

Commenting on the images posted by the MP on his Facebook page, Clare Taylor said: “The council reported that the memorial service was cancelled. It doesn’t look very cancelled does it?

“The point is not that the service went ahead, it is that they say and do polar opposites. They should have said that there would be a memorial service but unfortunately there wasn’t any capacity for public attendance.

MP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on FacebookMP Steve Barclay attending Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Wisbech. Pictures: Steve Barclay on Facebook

“Although why it couldn’t have been planned like other towns where public attendance was allowed I do not know!”

Steve Tierney, a Wisbech town councillor, insisted the information released about plans for Remembrance Sunday was correct and the Royal British Legion’s public service had been cancelled this year.

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He said: “WTC [Wisbech Town Council] don’t organise the service, just report the information given by the people who do. Simple as that.”

He added: “The information was correct, that the RBL [Royal British Legion] had cancelled their public service.

“If you have a problem with the RBL then you need to take it up with them. Not sure why you think it’s okay to moan to the town council about the cancellation of an event they do not organise, but it’s weird.”

In a separate remark, he told her: “You are being a bit silly...”

Fenland District Council urged residents to stay at home this Remembrance Sunday and honour the two minute silence on their doorsteps.

In Wisbech, around 100 members of the public still visited the war memorial to pay their respects at 11am even though the commemorations had been significantly reduced.

While the town council’s post last week implied a formal event and parade was not taking place, there were plans for the mayor to lay a wreath on the council’s behalf.

Clare Taylor added: “Many towns had socially distanced services! And I’m not saying the entire town should show up either!

“But when the councillors themselves said they had made plans for a service involving five people, but were told it could no longer go ahead ‘because this was no longer allowed’ and then pictures are plastered across Facebook with a lot more than five people at a service that was supposedly cancelled...”

While some agreed with her sentiment, others said it was still possible for residents to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Jill Ostler said: “‘There will be no Remembrance Service event at the war memorial’ does not mean Remembrance Sunday was cancelled or that you couldn’t go at any other time during the day to pay your respects - it just means the usual service event wasn’t happening.

Deputy mayor Cllr Andrew Lynn posted: “What is shocking to me is that people cannot put their personal vendettas against the council aside even for Remembrance Day, Who did or didn’t do what is irrelevant, what is relevant is respecting those who died so we can live,”

Cllr Sam Hoy told critics that she found it “disgusting that you are using remembering dead heroes to carry out your personal vendetta.”


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