Poppy Day parades to honour Britain’s war dead are facing the axe because police chiefs across the country are refusing to send officers to block off roads.
Campaigners have blasted forces for breaking the decades-old tradition, but senior officers say they have no choice because of Government budget cuts.
Instead, volunteers are battling to raise hundreds of pounds to hire professional traffic management firms to meet strict health and safety standards.
Organisers of the annual parade in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, which attracts about 10,000 people, say they need to raise £800 to save the event.
Campaigners have blasted forces for breaking the decades-old tradition, but senior officers say they have no choice because of Government budget cuts (stock photo)
Jock Bryson, 82, who runs the town’s Royal British Legion poppy appeal, said: ‘I feel disgusted that people went to war and gave their lives and now, all of a sudden, the police are saying they are not going to help us this year.’
West Midlands Police has also withdrawn its support for dozens of Remembrance Sunday parades.
Councillor Neil Eustace said that the event in his Stechford area of Birmingham had been affected: ‘The local sergeant sounded quite sheepish. He apologised but said they can’t provide any officers.
‘Police have turned up for decades to close the roads with the minimum of fuss – now it’s all a massive headache.’
Organisers of a parade in Mapperley, Nottinghamshire, said they were ‘gobsmacked’ when police told them they will not marshal traffic there this year.
Frank Mullen, 80, who served in the Royal Signals, said: ‘It is ridiculous. It is going to be cancelled because the police can’t be there and we can’t by law stop traffic.
‘We are one of the richest countries and they can’t even afford three or four police officers for an hour’s work.’
Volunteers are battling to raise hundreds of pounds to hire professional traffic management firms to meet strict health and safety standards (stock photo)
A parade in Stoke-on-Trent was threatened with the axe last week, until Staffordshire police did a U-turn and said they would supply officers after all.
‘And volunteers in Margaret Thatcher’s home town of Grantham, Lincolnshire, are also battling to keep their parades.
Responsibility for road closures has fallen on local authorities since a change in the law in 2004.
But police have largely continued to help run Remembrance Sunday parades – until now. Leicestershire Chief Superintendent Andy Lee said manning the roads ‘had an impact on our day-to-day operations’, so had to stop.
Nottinghamshire Police say they are not ‘the most appropriate organisation for traffic management’.
The Local Government Association, said councils will, ‘where possible’, provide support such as ‘waiving fees for temporarily closing roads and street signage’.