Ceremony no show sparks anger
REMEMBRANCE ceremonies descended into an unfortunate spat today over Suffolk County Council's "snub" of Ipswich's main commemorative event.Although the authority has around 80 elected councillors and almost 13,000 staff nobody was sent to the Christchurch Park ceremony yesterday to represent the council and lay a wreath – a decision which has angered some.
REMEMBRANCE ceremonies descended into an unfortunate spat today over Suffolk County Council's "snub" of Ipswich's main commemorative event.
Although the authority has around 80 elected councillors and almost 13,000 staff nobody was sent to the Christchurch Park ceremony yesterday to represent the council and lay a wreath – a decision which has angered some.
Paul West, a Conservative Ipswich Borough councillor for Stoke Park, fumed: "I take this as a snub to Ipswich.
"Someone from the county council in an official capacity should have been there.
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"There's enough people paid enough money at the county council from chief executive downwards to find somebody with enough time on Sunday to come to Ipswich.
"Ipswich is the county town – what's going on?"
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Suffolk County Council opted to send its chairwoman, Jane Hore, to a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Lowestoft, where she is a councillor, and its vice chair, Helen Whitworth, to a ceremony in Bury St Edmunds.
The council said it informed organisers of Ipswich's ceremony that it would not have an official representative attending but that message failed to get through to the Royal British Legion which twice called on the council to lay a wreath during the event.
Peter Thompson, chairman of the Ipswich branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "I called out for Suffolk County Council twice.
He added: "If I had known they couldn't make it I wouldn't have called the council out or I would have got a cadet to lay it on their behalf.
"I called them out twice because I thought they might not have heard me the first time but soon realised no-one was coming up."
Today Suffolk County Council said there were never any arrangements for it to have a representative at the Ipswich ceremony.
A spokesman for the council said: "Suffolk County Council regrets the confusion that occurred at yesterday's remembrance service at Christchurch Park in Ipswich.
"The organisers were advised well in advance that this year the council chair would be attending a service in Lowestoft and the vice chair would be in Bury St Edmunds.
"For reasons beyond our control this information was not passed to those officiating at the service.
"Suffolk County Council fully supports the work of the Royal British Legion and it was never anyone's intention to cause embarrassment."
Reg Driver, president of the Ipswich branch of the Royal British Legion said: "It would have been nice to have been told the day before. I just attribute it to a misunderstanding. I'm afraid messages do tend to float about a bit.
"We have no animosity about it. Suffolk County Council have always been very supportive. They have always had a wreath."
Mr West said he was surprised the ceremony at Lowestoft had been chosen over Ipswich.
"It would seem on this occasion the protocol was broken to make life easier for the chair of Suffolk County Council to go to Lowestoft," he said.
"It just seems one cock up from beginning to end."
Russell Harsant, a Conservative councillor for Suffolk County Council's Bixley ward, was at the Christchurch Park ceremony and he apologised to Royal British Legion representatives afterward on behalf of the council for its absence from the ceremony.
"I felt awfully embarrassed because it's a very big event. I was very disappointed," Cllr Harsant said.
"It is a big occasion and it is important"
Mr Thompson said in future years he hoped the county council would send a representative to the Christchurch Park ceremony, which is the county's largest Remembrance Sunday event.
"We always look for the mayor, the police and the county council to attend because they represent the people.
"We manage to get people from the military, the navy and some people travel a long distance to be with us."
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