• Petitioning Guy Egerton Smith

This petition will be delivered to:

Head of Estates - HMCS
Guy Egerton Smith
Permanent Secretary - The Ministry of Jstice
Ursula Brennan
Estates - HMCS
Brian Mcauliffe
Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
Chris Grayling MP

END THE DESECRATION OF FENTON GREAT WAR MEMORIAL 1914 - 1918

    1. Alan Gerrard
    2. Petition by

      Alan Gerrard

      Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Fenton Town Hall and the magnificent Great War Memorial contained within are under serious threat of demolition. Made from Minton tiles and 4m x 3m in dimension, the Great War Memorial remembers 498 men from Stoke-on-Trent who gallantly fell in service of their country. For many who were never recovered it is their grave.

Worryingly, the memorial's size and weight precludes its relocation: it is deeply embedded into the very fabric of the building in a wall at the top of a flight of stairs. And neither the memorial nor the Town Hall is protected as a recent application for listing status was rejected. 

Consequently there could be severe repercussions for the hall, memorial and community should it fall into the wrong hands. 

The Town Hall, till recently Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates' Courts, was put on the market for private development by the department responsible for its disposal, The Ministry of Justice, in January 2013, for £500,000. 

Your signature will help the community, in association with a reputable regeneration charity, transform the building into an exciting venue which will make the Great War memorial accessible to all to appreciate in a free and unhindered manner for the first time since 1968, when the town hall became exclusively a Magistrates, bring in jobs and growth to the area, whilst improving the profile of the local and wider community. 

To reiterate: we ask you to sign this petition in requesting the Ministry of Justice put a hold on the sale of the building to private developers and listen to the community's ideas for the town hall; not only then will we ensure the preservation of this fabulous piece of heritage, but we, as a society, can also state with honesty that in this centenary year ALL our WW1 heroes have been treated equally and with dignity.

Animation by Tom Weston

http://tom-weston.com/

For a copy of the high resolution video for distribution / broadcasting purposes please contact me at alangerrard@btconnect.com

Twitter @fentontownhall #fenton498

info@fentontown.org.uk

 

Alan Gerrard

Recent signatures

    News

    1. PLEASE CARRY THIS IN YOUR POCKET

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      PLEASE CARRY THIS IN YOUR POCKET

      The WW1 troops' Active Service John's Gospel. It's actually a reprint produced to raise awareness of WW1. In it, as well as the Gospel according to St John, contains the "Decision Note", added at the request of chaplains, giving the troops the chance to gain reassurance by placing their trust in the hands of the...

    2. The memorial and the cenotaph.

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      Photos of Fenton's memorial to the Great War can never do it justice; I observed it for the sixth time (or thereabouts) today and it never fails to take the breath away - such is its size and grandeur.

      More in keeping with a major city hall location in an affluent part of the country, the fact that it's owned by one of the poorest communities in the UK pays testament to the tenacity and determination of the town's community leaders and the families those brave Fenton lads left behind.

      Made from Minton Hollins tiles, at 4m x 3m in dimension and cemented into the fabric of a wall at the top of a flight of stairs, it's obvious the intention of our forefathers was that it should add to the permanence of Fenton's town hall, for they believed in a town hall as a community venue which would last for many generations.

      The memorial was unveiled on Armistice Day 1922 and you can read more about it, and the cenotaph it links to, here thanks to Betty Cooper and the Phoenix Trust

      Today's residents wish to ensure our ancestors' vision for the town hall and memorial lives on.
      http://www.northstaffordshire.co.uk/?p=12579#comment-5535

      Focus on Fenton - The Cenotaph and the War Memorial

      The ceremony started at 2.30pm with a service in the town hall, where a Minton Hollins enamelled faience memorial panel had been fixed to the wall of the main staircase. Designed by Walter Brown, who had been a student at Fenton Art School, it contained the names of Fenton men who had been killed in action during the First World War (1914-1918).

    3. The principle of Unequal Sacrifice

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      The British pre-war method of purely voluntary recruiting has been described by one of her most eminent soldiers, Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, as 'conscription by hunger'. Sir William Robertson said, 'We have always had compulsory service, the compulsion of hunger'. Lord Esher called the voluntary system 'the principle of Unequal Sacrifice'. And it was on the basis of that principle that Britain went to war...Source WFA

      Please consider that today, in 2014, that principle still applies, as a memorial to 498 WW1 dead from Stoke-on-Trent gets sold off by the Ministry of Justice to a private developer, against the wishes of the community, amidst £50m+ commemorative events espousing inclusivity of remembrance.

      If you, like us, find this unacceptable, please share this petition with as many of your friends and contacts as possible.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTfOFZhjTK0

      Fenton Town Hall Magistrates WW1 Great War Memorial Human Chain

      Dec Brennan's excellent video chronicling Fenton's human chain: On August 4th 2014, the centenary of the Great War, the people of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, generated a Human Chain around their town hall and the WW1 memorial inside the building, sending out a symbolic message to the Ministry of Justice that they would not sit idly by while their heritage was sold off for private development.

    4. Regional news article on progress of online petition

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      10,121 sign up to save historic war memorial at Fenton Town Hall

      MORE than 10,000 campaigners have signed a petition calling for a war memorial to be saved. Fenton Town Hall is set to be sold off by the Ministry of Justice for £500,000 which has already received two undisclosed private bids.

    5. Forces TV article on the fight to save Fenton's Great War memorial

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      http://forces.tv/86497602
      An excellent article produced by Forces TV highlighting the campaign to save Fenton Town Hall and the memorial to the Great War. The guys have got it about right: the people want the memorial to stay within their community and for there to be open and unhindered access to it for the first time since 1968. This is possible through the robust plans submitted in the Community Asset Transfer proposal, in conjunction with Urban Vision, the regeneration charity, which will see the former town hall transformed back into a vibrant community hub which can regenerate not just the immediate locale but the wider conurbation of Stoke-on-Trent.

      The MoJ say any sale to a private developer will include "a condition that the memorial be preserved". This means a Restrictive Covenant will be attached. If you believe this brings a satisfactory conclusion to this matter I would suggest you try looking up Restrictive Covenant Indemnity Insurance - see how lucrative the industry is - or consider the fact that covenants can be bought off or even requested to be removed. The fact is the MoJ's stance is a statement that troops from Fenton were less valuable than others

      When we last spoke to the civil servant dealing with the "disposal" of the town hall he was antagonistic about the community's stance because, according to him, he was going to great lengths to ensure they'd come down heavily on anyone who breached a covenant - he missed a fundamental point: how much the developer is fined becomes an irrelevance because it is all too late - society has lost a spectacular memorial and 498 souls have been violated. The MoJ are making a conscious decision: considering offers which may well involve desecration of the memorial against one which definitely won't. In that sense they have already, and for 18 months, insulted these men, their families and any person who believes in equality in such matters.

      Challenge under s.84(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925
      If a restrictive covenant is valid, the Lands Tribunal can, nevertheless, discharge or modify it. An application can be made to the Lands Tribunal on a number of grounds, for example that "by reason of changes in the character of the property or the neighbourhood or other circumstances of the case which the Lands Tribunal may deem material, the restriction ought to be deemed obsolete". The Lands Tribunal can also remove restrictions which impede reasonable use of land if the owner of the retained land does not secure any practical benefit from the restriction. In some cases the Lands Tribunal will remove or modify a restriction on condition that the applicant pays a specified amount of compensation.
      http://www.johnantell.co.uk/restrictive-covenants-land

      Lewis Silkin sum up the uselessness of covenants in protecting something as priceless as a Minton Hollins WW1 memorial quite nicely. Writing from the developer's perspective:
      http://www.lewissilkin.com/Knowledge/2010/November/~/media/Knowledge%20PDFs/RED/A%20little%20bit%20of%20law%20Restrictive%20Covenants.ashx

      Residents Fight to Save Fenton WWI Memorial

      A war memorial in Stoke-on-Trent is at risk of destruction or neglect, but local residents are fighting for its future. A plaque with the names of the 498 Fenton residents who died in the First World War is built into the wall of Fenton Town Hall, which is up for sale to private buyers - and the plaque cannot be moved.

    6. Recent letters of support in regional paper.

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      The recent letters in the regional newspaper supporting the campaign to have Fenton Town Hall and its war memorials returned to the community they belong to.

      Please share far and wide! The fight goes on.

      Please get your contacts to sign this petition to end this injustice.

      https://greatwarmemorial.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/letterspagesentinelmervyn.jpg

    7. The Story of Thomas Henry Abbotts

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      http://greatwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/thomas-henry-abbotts/

      Thomas Henry Abbotts

      Excellent article by Richard Ault about WW1 war hero Thomas Henry Abbotts of George Street, Fenton.

      Thomas is currently commemorated on the Minton Hollins scroll currently at risk of demolition

      For more info please contact Richard at richard.ault@thesentinel.co.uk

      Thomas Henry Abbotts

      Excellent article by Richard Ault about WW1 war hero Thomas Henry Abbotts of George Street, Fenton. Thomas is currently commemorated on the Minton Hollins scroll within the former Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates' Courts, aka Fenton Town Hall - but its future is uncertain if sold to private development https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTfOFZhjTK0

    8. Reached 10,000 signatures
    9. Fenton's Human Chain protecting its WW1 Memorial

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer

      Dec Brennan's excellent video chronicling Fenton's human chain:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTfOFZhjTK0

      On August 4th 2014, the centenary of the Great War, the people of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, generated a Human Chain around their town hall and the WW1 memorial inside the building, sending out a symbolic message to the Ministry of Justice that they would not sit idly by while their heritage was sold off for private development. The ministry have promised to protect the memorial to 498 men post sale with a Restrictive covenant but to the residents of Fenton this is a statement that government values the sacrifices made by Fenton men in WW1 less than others. Covenants can reduce the likelihood of damage to memorials but eliminate - thus by selling to private developers the government are prepared such risks and merely value 498 men's lives in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. This would not be the case in Kensington. It would not be the case in a marginal seat.

      Please sign the petition so that we can apply to pressure to the Ministry of Justice in asking them to consider the community's sound proposals for the building - which would involve opening the building up 7 days a week and providing free and unhindered access to the memorial (and three others)

      Fenton Town Hall Magistrates WW1 Great War Memorial Human Chain

      Dec Brennan's excellent video chronicling Fenton's human chain: On August 4th 2014, the centenary of the Great War, the people of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, generated a Human Chain around their town hall and the WW1 memorial inside the building, sending out a symbolic message to the Ministry of Justice that they would not sit idly by while their heritage was sold off for private development.

    10. Reached 9,000 signatures
    11. SPONSOR A NAME

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Sponsor a name on Fenton's Memorial to the Great War

      The print of the WW1 memorial is now hanging in Theartbay Gallery. Presently, 20 of the 498 have been sponsored. A star shaped sticker is placed by the name of each sponsored hero. If you would like to make your contribution please send in your pledges now by PM on Facebook or via email at...

    12. Reached 8,000 signatures
    13. LIMITED ACCESS

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Limited access to Fenton's WW1 memorial

      As you can see, the MoJ have agreed to allow the community access to the memorial albeit on an extremely restrictive basis this Remembrance Sunday. The community of Fenton feels this dictatorial response by the Ministry is unfair and unnecessary not least as many relatives would like to record their ancestor's names on the memorial...

    14. Reached 7,000 signatures
    15. Landowner - WW1 terminology "Dead and Buried"

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Great War Memorial

      "Landowner" - artist Harry Davies. In remembrance of the 498 men commemorated on Fenton's memorial to the Great War which is at risk of demolition Minimum of £500 from the sale of the original painting will contribute to the Fenton498 campaign http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/painting-the-town-red/ This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged fenton, great war, harry davies, landowner, original painting, remembrance.

    16. Painting the Town Red

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      FENTON - Painting a Town Red - An Appeal

      The community of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent has a LIVE Crowdfunder appeal to buy Flanders poppy seeds to scatter around the town on Remembrance weekend so that the whole town is "painted red" next summer. That way, should the town lose its town hall and memorial to the Great War, at least there will remain a floral...

    17. Petition Goes to 10 Downing Street

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      20th October - Delivering Fenton's Petition to 10 Downing Street

      On Sunday 20th October the campaign group fighting to save Fenton's memorial to The Great War from the hands of private developers go to London to present their petition to 10 Downing Street. The great grand-daughter of Ernest Heapy, one of the fallen, will present it.

    18. Jackie Ashley of The Guardian considers Fenton's memorial to the Great War

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Fenton Memorial in The Guardian

      Who will win the first world war this time round? It's no surprise that the centenary events are controversial - but in Britain, the anti-war side risks hitting the wrong note... The Guardian's Jackie Ashley considers WW1 remembrance This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged anti-war, fenton, jackie ashley, memorial, the guardian, ww1.

    19. Reached 6,000 signatures
    20. Latest celebrity support

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Latest celebrity support

      John Challis (Boycie) of Only Fools and Horses and Barry and Paul Elliott (the Chuckle Brothers) are the latest personalities to support the #Fenton498 campaign to save the town's memorial to The Great War 1914 - 1918. All thanks to them. You'd have to be a fool (or perhaps a horse) to fall for the...

    21. Lest We Forget

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Great War Memorial

      For Eliza, her father and uncle, the other 496 men and their grieving family and friends, for all those sacrificed and yet to be sacrificed and all those who have grieved and are yet to grieve, we HAVE to find a way of protecting Fenton's memorial to the Great War.

    22. Meeting with the Military Association

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Military Association

      Meeting of Stoke-on-Trent Military Association - Monday 19th August. Several of the veterans have relatives who served in the Great War and are commemorated on the memorial. For example Ron, featured at the end, whose grandad E. Durose died at the second battle of The Somme.

    23. Harold W. Hines

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      Great War Memorial

      THE name of a hero who won several medals for bravery before paying the ultimate price could be forgotten forever if a town's war memorial is torn down. Among the names of 498 fallen soldiers on the Fenton War Memorial is the inscription 'Hines, Harold W' - Second Lieutenant Harold William Hines, of the Royal...

    24. Archive film from the Great War - courtesy Movietone

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      UNEDITED ARCHIVE FILM from WW1 1914 - 1918

      UNEDITED ARCHIVE FILM from WW1 1914 - 1918 Part 2. copyright British Movietone. Support ‪#‎Fenton498‬ Why we are protecting Fenton's memorial to the Great War Source of Origin unknown. Apparently scene on active service during the great war (World War I). Snow on ground in many shots. 2 soldiers in trench cleaning rifles.

    25. More from Movietone - with thanks!

      Alan Gerrard
      Petition Organizer
      THE SOMME CONTEMPORARY RECONSTRUCTION

      THE SOMME CONTEMPORARY RECONSTRUCTION WW1 - Copyright British Movietone - #Fenton498 UNEDITED. Copyright and thanks to British Movietone for license to show this. Read more... Support the campaign to save Fenton memorial to the Great War - http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stop-the-desecration-of-fenton-great-war-memorial-1914-1918 All reconstruction. Explosion. Two soldiers in trench, one pushes detonator. Gv Explosion.

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Trevor Smith STAFFORDSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 13 hours ago

      I can only give them my recognition - they gave their lives.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Rob Dawson STOKE-ON-TRENT, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 1 day ago

      My uncle is listed on the memorial and i was raised in fenton near to the court!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Barbara Dodd STAFFORD, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 3 days ago

      I grew up in Fenton and many ancestors lived there. We need to protect our heritage

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • andrew I jackson FENTON. STOKE-ON-TRENT, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 3 days ago

      This memorial is in memory of my ancestors who died fighting to give me a chance to make the life Ian living now

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anthony Janes 2, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 3 days ago

      it just is

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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