Battle on for Bolton war memorial

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BOLTON campaigners still have a fight on their hand to preserve the village war memorial on its original site, after council plans to save it fell through.

Last year, councillors pledged to preserve the memorial to former pupils who died in World War 1 on the site of the demolished Lacewood school, after a campaign raised 6,000 signatures.

Housing association Bernslai Homes had agreed to build houses on the site around the monument, to allow access to it for the community.

But now it has emerged that no homes can be built on the site – because old deeds say it can only be used for “educational purposes”, putting the future of the monument in doubt.

Sue Hodges, of the Friends of Bolton upon Dearne War Memorial group said: “Last year, Barnsley Council told us we could go ahead with building a wall and a memorial garden around the memorial. They even left us stone salvaged from the old school and sent us architects drawings of what it would look like.

“We asked them to give us a timetable for getting things underway and put feelers out for builders and so on.

“But they eventually told us that the homes could not be built, because deeds held by the Charity Commission stipulated the site could only be used for educational purposes. There is no way the council could build a new school on the site as Bolton has three schools already.

The monument – with more than 20 names of the war dead on on it – was housed for 75 years in a small shelter in the grounds of the school.

There was an outcry last year, when Barnsley Council wanted to move it to another site after the school was demolished.

Sue added: “The council is now looking for an educational Foundation to take over the site – but it cannot guarantee that any new owner would build around the memorial like Bernslai Homes promised.

“It is bad news for Bolton. It looks like we are back to square one – we will have to take up our case again with whoever gets the site.

“We always said the memorial would be for educational purposes, for the schoolchildren to come and visit and learn about their own history. It is the last thing we have standing in Bolton, representing the decent part of our village all those years ago.”

The Friends group – which researched the army records of the former pupils whose names are on the memorial – is looking for more volunteers, to raise the profile of the campaign to save the memorial.