What will happen to war memorial?

The war memorial portico at Harborough's Cottage Hospital in Coventry Road
The war memorial portico at Harborough's Cottage Hospital in Coventry Road

A petition with more than 3,000 signatures has been sent to the NHS, demanding that it safeguards the future of Harborough’s war memorial and portico.

The petition calls on NHS England to protect the grade two listed structure, fund the move to a new site and guarantee upkeep and maintenance.

The petition will be received by NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens.

In a document accompanying the petition district councillor Phil Knowles – who helped launch it – has called on Mr Stevens to “back the community” and ensure that the memorial and portico is protected and its future funding secured.

Cllr Knowles has also asked Mr Stevens to take a personal interest in seeing the long promised new community hospital for Harborough is delivered.

Cllr Knowles said: “We understand that the NHS England board meets this month and have taken steps to ensure that Mr Stevens has the petition in advance of that meeting. We have also taken the opportunity to invite Mr Stevens or any of the other board members from NHS England to visit Harborough.

“I’m sure that seeing the memorial and portico would underline to Mr Stevens all the reasons why it is held in such high regard.”

The Harborough war memorial features four marble tablets inscribed with the names of 1,658 men who fought in the First World War.

They are housed in a decorative entrance porch attached to the town’s Cottage Hospital in Coventry Road.

But the Cottage Hospital is now considered surplus to NHS requirements, and will be sold.

In June, health bosses approved a plan to move all minor injury and other services from the Cottage Hospital to Market Harborough Medical Centre across the road.

But no timetable has yet been released for when this might happen.

Nor has any date been given for when a decision might be made on the memorial’s future.

The Mail asked the NHS a series of question about the timescale for the hospital’s sale and for their views on the 3,000-name petition but it did not reply in time for deadline.

The campaign to protect the portico came after news emerged in January that health bosses had removed the cost of rehousing the memorial from its budget for the new £6.8m St Luke’s Hospital.

Harborough Council leader Blake Pain has said councillors and residents feel the NHS has a moral responsibility for preserving the memorial for the future.