Architect looking at new sites for memorial portico

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A specialist architect has been commissioned to investigate where the town’s war memorial portico could be moved to.

Campaigners have been urging health chiefs to protect and preserve the war memorial portico at Harborough’s Cottage Hospital in Coventry Road.

Concerns have been raised after NHS bosses removed the cost of rehousing the memorial from its budget plans in January. The Cottage Hospital is likely to be sold by the NHS as part of its £6.8million plan to rebuild the town’s St Luke’s Hospital in Leicester Road.

The portico holds four marble tablets featuring 1,658 names of soldiers who fought in the First World War.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “We are working with an architect to look at options for the future relocation of the memorial in the event the district hospital is declared surplus by NHS commissioners.

“We are also working closely with Harborough District Council and we and our architect plan to meet with them and English Heritage in the next few weeks to discuss this work further.”

Meanwhile, a petition launched in February to save the memorial is nearing 3,000 signatures.

Campaigners are hoping to formally hand over the petition in the next few weeks.

District councillor Phil Knowles, one of the founders of the petition, said: “We intend to present it to those at the most senior possible level in the NHS.

“Perhaps when they receive it, we will see questions asked of those who are in charge locally.

“It is all well and good the NHS saying the future of the memorial and portico will be covered as part of the disposal considerations of the Coventry Road site but how many years will that take?

“How long will the decommissioning require?

“How will it be protected as the building stands empty, possibly for years?”