GUEST COLUMN: Soldiers remembered at service, by Coun Martin Wright, Mansfield Independent Forum leader

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This year has seen ceremonies of remembrance both locally and nationally to commemorate the end of the Second World War in Europe and the war against Japan.

We have seen and heard much about the feats of the RAF during the Battle of Britain and given thanks for the bravery of the young pilots who fought against enormous odds and endured such tremendous losses.

As a nation we would probably have not have survived without the materials and weaponry that were transported across the Atlantic Ocean by the sailors of the Merchant Navy who themselves made tremendous sacrifices and showed great courage in keeping our country and its people supplied between 1939 and 1945.

185,000 British, many from Nottinghamshire, and Commonwealth seaman served in the Merchant Navy during World War Two, of these brave men 30,248 lost their lives, a death rate that was higher proportionately than in any of the armed forces.

So it gave me great pleasure, as the newly elected chairman of Mansfield District Council, to attend the raising of the Red Ensign by deputy Mayor Cllr Mick Barton at the Civic Centre and the short service of remembrance that followed, conducted by the Rev David Fudger. We were joined by councillors and members of staff to mark this first Merchant Navy Day.

Monday last, saw the introduction of 30 minutes free parking on all of the council’s surface car parks and three hours parking for the price of two in the Four Seasons and Walkden Street multi-storey carparks. Cashless parking, with no administration fees, will also be introduced in the near future for those who prefer to pay via their mobile phone etc. These initiatives were included in the Mayor’s election manifesto and are designed to encourage visitors and residents to spend more time in Mansfield town centre.

Mansfield’s Summer festivals around the district have been a wonderful success story, the three events attracted around 2000 people with free entertainment for all the family and a good family festival atmosphere was enjoyed by all.

Finally on a personal note, I was very disappointed to be told that the plaque on the memorial seat to former friend and colleague Cllr Bob Cross had been stolen. The morons that removed it probably thought it had a high scrap value, actually it had not. I am extremely grateful to the Oak Tree Neighbourhood Management Team who plan to replace the plaque.