The petition of residents of Taunton Deane,
Declares that the current condition of the iconic Wellington Monument, established to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, is in a desperate state of repair and is consequently unsafe; further that the 200th anniversary of its building will be celebrated in 2017; further that the closing off of this national cultural landmark is restricting community engagement and the recreational enjoyment of local residents; and further that its current condition is an unfitting memorial to one of our greatest war heroes, The Duke of Wellington.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to provide funding to restore the Wellington Monument to a safe and stable condition so it may be re-opened to members of the public.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rebecca Pow, Official Report, 20 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 928.]
Observations by The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Karen Bradley):
The National Trust is responsible for the Wellington Monument having acquired it in the early 1930’s. They are committed to the future of the monument and the repair option they plan to undertake will safeguard it for future generations.
The Monument was built in several stages and to varying degrees of quality, so the need for, and cost of, a longer-term solution for the monument has long been a challenge for the National Trust. In order to understand the causes of the deterioration and develop a repair plan the National Trust have already invested significant professional time and over £150,000 in surveys, this has included costing and evaluating several repair options.
Their estimate for the total cost of a repair project, which will include engaging the local community and wider public, is £4 million. To fund this, the Trust is planning to submit a first round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund this year. They are also in discussions with the War Memorials Trust and are hoping to apply for funding at the end of December.
Both the Government and the National Trust recognise that local people are keen to see the monument repaired. In addition to this petition, the National Trust have started an online survey to find out more about what people would like to do at the monument and how they might be involved. Of the 100 people who have completed it so far, more than 95% say they strongly agree with the monument being repaired, despite the steep cost.
Currently, 40,000 people visit the Monument each year. The National Trust want to use the project to ensure many more people can benefit. They want to work with the local community so they can take more ownership and provide opportunities for training and volunteering in addition to programmes of activity and events.