Plans for a £75,000 stone memorial to a brave battalion which sustained huge losses during the Second World War have attracted a spate of objections from residents who say it will dominate their main village green.
Campaigners have submitted a planning application to Melton Council for the tribute to the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, at Somerby, where the troops were based.
On September 18, 1944, 582 men from the regiment were dropped into the Battle of Arnhem in Holland and after fierce fighting to secure strategic bridges only 36 of them returned to the village.
The event has been commemorated with a service annually at All Saints’ Church for more than 70 years and campaign charity, Friends of the Tenth (FOTT), last year set about raising money to pay for a permanent memorial, to be sited on a grassland area in front of the church.
It would take the form of a main sculpture showing members of the regiment with four bench seats surrounding it.
Dozens of people have written to the council to support the project, including General Sir Mike Jackson, who was one of the British Army’s most high profile generals since the last war and served with The Parachute Regiment.
But a number of people have objected, with one suggesting it would be an ‘eyesore’, others saying it should be sited in front of the Memorial Hall, and some complaining they weren’t consulted properly on it.
Amanda Howe, on behalf of FOTT, said the group had consulted residents and parish councillors throughly, it had posted articles in the parish magazine and the design and scale of the memorial had already been amended in line with concerns.
She told the Melton Times: “At the request of Somerby Parish Council, once in principle designs were commissioned, a public consultation event was held, to which all residents of Somerby were directly invited by FOTT.
“A full scale mock-up of the preferred installation was created and displayed in situ on the village green, and feedback from the public sought, with a second design option was being put forward for consideration.”
She added: “As is to be expected, and much as we would like to, it is questionable as to whether it would ever be possible to meet the needs of all parties when putting forward a proposal such as this.
“Further opportunity to comment and raise objection has been afforded as part of the democratic planning process, which will be given due independent consideration by Melton Borough Council.”
Mrs Howe added: “We respect that individuals may not share our passion for this project and the future ongoing recognition of the events which took place nearly 75 year ago.
“After all, many of the men of the 10th Battalion laid down their lives to ensure that we can continue to express our opinions freely in a democratic society.”
Councillor Leigh Higgins, who is borough council ward member for the village, said he could see both sides of the argument.
He said: “I have had a fair number of Somerby residents contact me over this matter and, at the moment, there are over 20 objections.
“As their local councillor, we are there to ensure all views are heard regardless of personal opinion.
“Equally I believe the FOTT have aims which have merit in what they are trying to honour and subsequently I have now been in touch with the FOTT and we are looking to arrange a meeting.
“The application will be eventually judged against local and national planning policies.”