The annual parade by service personnel, veterans and cadets to mark Remembrance Sunday in Kingswood did not happen this year, after a disagreement over who was responsible for the event. The wreath-laying at the town’s Cenotaph took place as usual, followed by a church service at Holy Trinity Church in Kingswood, but there was no parade due to a row over road closures and public liability insurance.
South Gloucestershire Council maintained its position that the responsibility for organising the road closures and insurance connected with the event lies with the Royal British Legion, but the RBL nationally - and the Kingswood branch - maintain local authorities should take on the ownership of the logistics and legalities as they regard them as civic events.
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The result was that the parade did not happen in Kingswood again this year - it was halted because of Covid and the last parade took place in 2019. Parades with road closures did happen in Yate and Staple Hill, where a local community organisation took on the responsibility of organising the legal issues around insurance and road closures, rather than either the RBL or South Gloucestershire Council.
The chairman of the Kingswood branch of the RBL, Neville Wooding, said it was a shame that the parade could not take place. “It was due to a long-standing divergence of views between the Royal British Legion and most local government authorities, including South Gloucestershire, over who should ‘own’ - ie be responsible for - the event. The RBL take the view that this is a civic occasion, and the local authority should ‘own’ the event, while the local authority, South Gloucestershire, takes the view the RBL should ‘own’ it,” he explained.
“It’s such a shame because the people of Kingswood have become accustomed to having a parade. It wasn’t an issue of cost - we had an anonymous donor offering to pay for the public liability insurance, but it was about who was ultimately liable and responsible. I find it difficult to comprehend why the local authority don’t take this on,” he added.
A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said the council was ‘proud to support’ Remembrance Day, but it was not the council’s job to be responsible for them.
“We are saddened that the organisers of Kingswood Remembrance Day parade decided it couldn’t take place in its usual format this year due to an issue with public liability insurance,” he said. “We are proud to support Remembrance Day services which enable our communities to come together in a moment of shared reflection.
“Our role is to administer and authorise any requests for road closures to enable associated parades to take place, and parades in other areas of South Gloucestershire went ahead as planned yesterday,” he added.
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