Council completes work to keep drunks off war memorial

RAILINGS have been installed on the flowerbeds at Grays war memorial in a bid to stop them playing host to drunks and itinerants who have despoiled the area in recent times, using it as a place to congregate and hang-out.

The small railing prevents people from sitting on the flowerbed wall.

Thurrock Council leader Cllr Rob Gledhill said: “Like many other residents I was fed up with the sight of our war memorial being used as a place for street drinkers and others to congregate all day showing little to no respect for the fallen.

“It should be a place of quiet reflection where we remember all those who have lost their lives in service to their country and all who have served in the armed forces. The railings are in keeping with the memorial and makes it less convenient for people to use it as an impromptu seating area.”

One of the most ignominious moments in the desecration of the memorial came in 2016 when a woman urinated on it.

Kelly Martin, 42, first used the monument as a toilet in broad daylight when it was surrounded by Remembrance poppy wreaths in April that year. She did so a second time while on bail in June, the day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Her actions were caught on camera and led to the mother-of-five being jailed for seven months at Basildon Crown Court.

Cllr Aaron Watkins, portfolio holder for environment, said: “We have recently been preparing all of our war memorials to make sure they are ready for this weekend’s centenary remembrance events.

“By making this small, and visually attractive, addition to the Grays War Memorial we can help make sure that the site is used for the purpose it is intended and not a place for people to congregate and pass the time.”

Other work carried out as part of preparations for remembrance day has included specialist cleaning and restoration work on all the borough’s war memorials, special commemorative planters installed at war memorials; Silent Soldier silhouettes put on display at war memorials and in Thurrock Council cemeteries as well as Thurrock Council helping local communities to restore the beacons at Coal House Fort and Purfleet.