No Remembrance Service at The Rose

Artist's impression of the completed MK Rose
Artist's impression of the completed MK Rose

THE £1.2 million Rose memorial will not host a Remembrance Day service this year.

The project, based in Campbell Park and unveiled in time for last year’s event, was built to celebrate and commemorate events in history, as well as providing an area for people’s personal reflections.

But because November 11 falls on Remembrance Sunday this year, the group behind The Rose, the Cenotaph Trust, has decided no event will be held as they don’t want to clash with traditional services held throughout Milton Keynes and in villages such as Bletchley and Newport Pagnell.

The decision comes despite the only completed column being for 11/11. In all The Rose has 140 columns, which will eventually be engraved to honour a host of events throughout history.

When unveiled the project received criticism for its all-inclusive nature, with some believing it should have been a dedicated war memorial.

And this week vice chairman of Campbell Park Parish Council, Councillor Isabella Fraser, said she is not surprised The Rose won’t be in use on Sunday as it is not a proper cenotaph.

She told the Citizen: “We are looking at getting a proper war memorial in Milton Keynes because The Rose is not one. It is not a memorial and it is not a cenotaph for those who have fallen.

“We need a memorial where people can pay their respects to uniformed people who risk their lives everyday.”

And Milton Keynes Council Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Douglas McCall, who will lead the parade in Newport Pagnell as part of his role as President of the town’s Royal British Legion Club, backed her view.

On hearing the news that The Rose would not be used, he tweeted: ‘It is not a War Memorial!’

And he added that he had ‘never been convinced it (The Rose) was a good use of public money’.

The Cenotaph Trust and partners The Parks Trust say the project will be funded by commercial and personal donations and section 106 developer money, cash given into the public purse by developers for specific uses, in this case the arts.

Initial costs have been covered by a £600,000 contribution by The Parks Trust.

This money will be repaid by Milton Keynes Council via s106 receipts.

If there is a shortage of s106 money at any stage at which the council is due to make a payment it has pledged to use money from its capital reserves ‘to manage any difference in the timing between payments and receipts’.

This cash would then be recouped via the next s106 payment.

At the launch of The Rose last year, Cenotaph Trust trustee Gavin Anderson said: “There are moments in time that affect us all collectively.

“For me it was always Armistice Day. I remember the entire street stopping, cars stopping, people stopping.

“That was one of the things that was fed into this project.”

But this week he said the Trust had always intended not to hold an event if Remembrance Sunday fell on November 11.

“There was no event planned, Remembrance Sunday is the 11th and we have always stated that we would never cross with the local services in villages,” he said.

“But we are planning a ground breaking in December.”

And chairman of the Trust, Councillor Debbie Brock, added: “If we were to hold something at The Rose then there would be little or no representation there in terms of servicemen as they would already be attending other services around the city.

“We wouldn’t want to take away from any of the established services at the likes of Newport Pagnell or Olney.”

Related article:

Remembrance Day services in Milton Keynes