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Polish War Memorial

New release: 1/3/18 - The council has issued the below statement in answer to questions about an event held at the Polish War Memorial on Sunday 25 February.

News release: 01 March 2018

In 2017, Patriae Fidelis organised their event on 5 March at the Polish Air Force Memorial, to commemorate the 'Cursed Soldiers'. This created prolonged traffic congestion, involved unlawful use of pyrotechnics and smoke affecting the public highway, and left behind broken equipment and rubbish to be cleared up by Hillingdon Council. There were considerable public complaints as a result, addressed variously to Hillingdon Council and to RAF Northolt, neither of whom had any responsibility for the event.

As a result, Hillingdon Council required as a precondition for any future event that the organiser should have prior agreement from the police that they would attend. The organisers were informed in September 2017 that "if the police are unable to commit to an adequate presence at the event then we will not be able to accept your application for 2018 and the memorial or its environs will not be made available to you." 

The Metropolitan Police did not regard the event as a policing priority and that should have been the end of the matter. It is the organisers' responsibility that they continued planning for the 2018 event even after being informed by the police that they were not going to provide the presence required by the council. 

The memorial is owned by Hillingdon Council, who had already scheduled repair works to the pool and other parts of the memorial. Given the possibility of the event taking place without permission, the gates were locked to avoid risk of injury.

Suggestions that Hillingdon Council do not respect the memory of Polish airmen could not be further from the truth: we recently provided, planted, and now maintain a garden of remembrance adjacent to the memorial, and routinely carry out all cleaning and maintenance necessary on the memorial itself. Our dedication to the memory of the Polish Air Force in the West could not be stronger.

The real problem is that Patriae Fidelis some years ago started an annual event which has nothing to do with the Polish Air Force, at a site which is precious to surviving veterans, their families and the local community. The size, scale and conduct of the event in recent years has been incompatible with the dignified remembrance of the Polish Air Force for which the memorial was erected.

As a council, we have seldom come across such a poorly organised event and it is the organisers who are responsible for any upset caused to the Polish community.

Update 7 March 

The Leader of the Council said: "The disrespect shown by Patriae Fidelis to what we are proud to regard as a monument to fallen Polish airmen is simply not acceptable.Whilst we do not doubt their respect to their own cause they clearly do not understand the long  association of Hillingdon Council with the Polish community and the tremendous respect with which  the Polish Air Force are held here.

"This year sees the seventieth anniversary of the Polish Memorial and we are undertaking maintenance work to ensure that it continues to be kept in good order, not that we would expect these people to be aware of that fact or indeed any of the other work that we have done to show our continued thanks and respect to the Poles who stood with us in a time of conflict. For the absolute avoidance of doubt we have no interest in the view of this organisation and it will not affect our respect for the Polish community in the UK or the tremendous debt that we continue to owe to the Polish Air Force here during the Second World War."

 

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