‘Poppycock!’ – war of words breaks out over state of Cleadon Village monument

Councillors Margaret Meling, left, and Joan Atkinson at the Cleadon Village memorial.
Councillors Margaret Meling, left, and Joan Atkinson at the Cleadon Village memorial.
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A war of the poppies has broken out after a councillor claimed a village memorial was messy.

Coun Jeff Milburn sparked a council-wide review of war memorials in South Tyneside after he said the monument in Cleadon Village was covered in weeds

I’ve yet to hear from anyone who doesn’t appreciate the poppies, but I am always available to hear residents’ views in order that they can be accurately represented.

Coun Joan Atkinson

However, the village’s Labour councillors Joan Atkinson and Margaret Meling say it’s not weeds surrounding the memorial – they’re poppies.

And they had been planted specifically to honour the centenary of the first World War last year.

Coun Atkinson said: “These ‘weeds’ are, in fact, poppies chosen, and planted specifically, to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

“These were planted last year, the centenary of the start of the First World War, and the display then and again this year is spectacular.

“Maybe Coun Milburn should have attended one of the consultations, to which he was invited, to discuss the wildflower planting.

“He could have put his views forward then, or by arrangement, as an open invitation was extended.

“Many councillors did take the opportunity to attend and most, aware of their residents’ views, made contributions which reflected them. It seems Coun Milburn didn’t do so.”

Coun Atkinson also believes that the poppies are very popular with residents.

She added: “I’ve yet to hear from anyone who doesn’t appreciate the poppies, but I am always available to hear residents’ views in order that they can be accurately represented.”

However, Coun Milburn is adamant that the site is covered in weeds.

He said: “Yes there are poppies at the memorial, but there’s also an awful lot of weeds popping through the cracks of the stone, which look a mess.

“Lots of people have said that it looks a right state and it appears to be growing wild, it’s out of control.”