‘Slew of government errors’ to blame for Holocaust memorial delays, says trust

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‘Slew of government errors’ to blame for Holocaust memorial delays, says trust

London Historic Parks & Gardens Trust confirms it will continue to urge 'MPs to avoid building memorial 'on a public park'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Protesters at the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of a hearing in February 2022 about the UK Holocaust Memorial
Protesters at the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of a hearing in February 2022 about the UK Holocaust Memorial

A “sorry slew of government errors” is responsible for delays to the building of  “a fitting Holocaust memorial”, one of the main campaign groups against locating the £109million project in Westminster has claimed.

In a statement issued in response to a ruling that allows opponents of the building of a National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament to voice their concerns to MPs and peers, the London Historic Parks & Gardens Trust said they remained “committed to supporting a fitting Holocaust Memorial and to tackling antisemitism.”

But the charity, which has challenged the government’s attempt to rush the Holocaust Memorial Bill through parliament, said they welcomed last week’s ruling which “means that alongside the plan’s advocates, reasoned and respectful concerns about rescinding laws which prevent building on public parks will now be heard by MPs and peers. ”

They added:”We will now join those, including Holocaust survivors, urging MPs and peers to avoid building on a public park in order to fulfil these worthy goals. ”

But in a further criticism, LPG added: “This is the latest in a long series of regrettable setbacks for everyone hoping to see this project delivered, but the blame for delays sits with the Government.

“Through this long process, LPG – the charity charged with protecting London’s historic parks – and its partners have successfully challenged a sorry slew of government errors right up to the High Court, which have ill-served this important cause.

” Had the government originally adopted a legal plan and listened to reasoned feedback, a fitting Memorial would have been delivered years ago and full public access to a riverside park protected. ”

The charity, set up to protect green spaces in the capital, said it was “not LPG’s place to propose an alternative to the current plan” but said they “hope that the Government will fulfil the Holocaust Memorial Commission’s noble ambition far sooner by listening and building on a location which does not require new legislation. ”

After a three month review parliamentary examiners decided that Rishi Sunak’s Holocaust Memorial Bill, which was introduced to parliament in February, should be treated as “hybrid” – which means those who believe they will be affected by the provisions of the legislation now have the opportunity to put their views to parliament.

Following the announcement Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove said: “The Government is absolutely determined to complete the Holocaust Memorial.

“I am pleased that the Examiners have now reached their view on classification of the Bill so that it can now proceed through parliament. I know that a great many MPs from all sides of the House are very eager to express their support and to get the Memorial built.”

Plans for Westminster Memorial were first announced by then prime minister David Cameron in 2016. The project, estimated to be costing £109 million, has been backed by leaders from all parties including Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Tony Blair and Keir Starmer, along with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Board of Deputies.

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