The council has reacted to a demand by Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron for the war memorial is afforded protection from what is described as inappropriate use.
The new arrangement will ensure that it remains a place for remembrance and respect. Some people do not realise quite what the memorial is, and they have to be urged to step off the plinth, rather than, for example, using it as a vantage point for street performing.
The ugly temporary metal barriers will be removed meantime and the security staff at the City Chambers will actively police the area. The memorial is included within the Category A listing of the City Chambers and the quadrangle, and Scotland’s Service of Remembrance takes place there each November.
A plaque notes that the ‘stone of remembrance’ was set up to commemorate the people of Edinburgh lost in the First World War. It was unveiled by HRH Prince Henry on Armistice Day 1927, being accepted on behalf of the city by Lord Provost Stenson. A further commemorative inscription was added after the Second World War.
The simplicity of its design is deliberate and is a variation of Lutyen’s Stone of Remembrance. It represents the size of memorials for cemeteries of more than 500 graves, illustrating the scale of Edinburgh’s loss. The council has agreed that ‘any new interventions would need to be done sensitively and in keeping with the design of the memorial and its placing beneath the portico. A combination of lighting, a new barrier system, increased policing, improved signage and a greater delineated space around the memorial itself should be considered. Because of its location within a Grade ‘A’ listed site, design proposals would need the approval of Historic Environment Scotland (HES).’
Edinburgh World Heritage Trust has agreed to contribute to the £3,000 cost of design works.
Cllr Cameron lodged this motion last November: “Council notes that the War Memorial in front of the City Chambers is where Scotland’s Annual Service of Remembrance takes place. The War Memorial is a place of respect and remembrance and is visited and photographed by numerous visitors and residents alike during the year. Metal barriers are currently in place, together with a sign requesting people to respect the War Memorial.
Council calls for a report in two cycles to Finance and Resources Committee setting out:
1) How the preservation and presentation of the war memorial in its setting can best be achieved and respected, without the use of metal barriers;
2) Any access issues to the War Memorial and to the entrance to the public Quadrangle in order to keep pavement space free for pedestrian movement and access to the City Chambers and Quadrangle.”