Repealed or not the people invoked the spirit of Article 61 of the Magna Carta 1215 because the government department dealing with the “disposal” of Fenton Town Hall, the Ministry of Justice, was acting “out of control”, in a manner unrepresentative of the vast majority of taxpayers in the UK.
Many people THE WORLD OVER felt dismayed about the future of the priceless First World War memorial left to the application of standard Property Law:
In his response to Robert Flello MP in The Commons about the effectiveness of covenants in protecting the memorial Shailesh Vara MP used terms such as “HOPE” and “DO THE UTMOST” in avoiding disposal to “ROGUE DEVELOPERS”, the existence of which he openly acknowldeged (see Hansard).
No copy of the said protective covenant has been sent to the community and on many agents’ sites (eg propertylink.estatesgazette) no mention of a covenant is made. No wonder the community and thousands of others around the world argue selling a priceless architectural jewel such as this into private hands is too big a risk, and no wonder many relatives should feel the Ministry is acting irresponsibly in its handling of this matter, leading to the subsequent action to protect their relatives’ memorial and in some cases grave.
Of course, a covenant cannot guarantee appropriate levels of access to the First World War memorial. It should also be pointed out during this two year period of “disposal” the Ministry have made available just 10 hours for viewings. Conversely, during the month long period of occupation, at least 50 relatives had the opportunity to pay respects to their ancestors in an open, unhindered manner; the first time for nearly 50 years. Ultimately, only in the hands of the community can we maximise the likelihood of the memorial’s survival and access to the public.
Now let us hope that Stoke-on-Trent’s own Tristram Hunt MP, in recognising the community’s need to hold the Ministry of Justice to account over their handling of Fenton Town Hall, has also joined the fight to see it, and the fabulous memorials it contains, brought back to its community.