On 19th October 2017, the town's beautiful "Forever" stone poppy collapsed.
The Town Council had insured the poppy for £250,000 and accordingly, the insurers instructed Cunningham Lindsey Chartered Loss Adjusters to investigate the claim.
This investigation included an engineer's report issued by Tobin Consulting Engineers (UK) and commissioned by the original artist Mark Humphrey.
On 21st February 2018, Cunningham Lindsey issued a letter on behalf of the insurers, declining to deal with the claim, saying that the policy specifically excluded "damage to the structure caused by its own collapse or cracking".
In the hope of persuading the insurers to draw a different conclusion, a further report was commissioned from Plowden & Smith whose stone specialist undertook the investigation. It was their conclusion that "the design of the poppy had put this stone under tremendous tensile stress with no obvious support". Full details of their report please click here.
They went on to say "In our opinion and based on our empirical experience, this memorial in its present form and design should not be repaired or remanufactured. If the object is to be repaired and reinstated, a complete redesign using a masonry support should be manufactured to support and cradle the stone using the compressive strength of masonry to advantage. The alternative would be to manufacture the piece in bronze by those with suitable knowledge and experience of the material".
In light of this decision, the Town Council decided to seek views from the public as to what they would like to see happen. A public meeting was held on 25th September 2018 and was attended by approximately 80 people.
At that meeting the original design artist Mark Humphrey indicated that a fully supported framework poppy could be manufactured for between £50,000 - £60,000, something the meeting overwhelming supported. Councillors are however keen to understand whether this is supported by the wider community.
If the Town Council underwrites £60,000, this represents an extra £15 for a council tax band "D" house. Put another way, it's the equivalent to the running costs of Borough Field toilets for 4 years, or the operation costs of the town's CCTV for over 2 years, or the cost of Christmas Lights & Shopping Event for the next 3 years.
With public finances under so much pressure, the Councillors are keen to hear the public views, not only this suggestion but any others that you may have.
Please see the Winter Edition of the Community Magazine coming through everyone's door. You will be able to submit your ideas to send to the Town Council at 117 High Street SN4 7AU by Monday 17th December 2018; we look forward to receiving them.