Row over poppies to remember war dead
After agreeing to cover Swansea in a sea of poppies to honour the city’s war dead next year — councillors have fallen out over when they should be planted.
The authority is planning to sow poppy seeds at sites across the city next year, including at the Guildhall, the Civic Centre, and the seafront cenotaph near St Helen’s rugby and cricket club to mark the century since the start of the First World War.
The initiative is supported by councillors from all parties, but a question over which types of poppy to be used, and when they might bloom, lead to a heated exchange at a meeting of full council.
In a written question to council leader David Phillips, independent councillors asked if the authority could see if there were late flowering poppies that could be planted to bloom in November to coincide with remembrance services.
In a written response, Coun Phillips replied: “To exploit a proposal to honour the dead and injured victims of war as a basis for petty political point scoring plumbs new depths of mean-mindedness, even for the Independent group under councillor [Wendy] Fitzgerald’s leadership.
“It demeans the purpose and spirit of a proposal that has been met with universal support and is unworthy of elected representatives of this authority.”
The row spilled over into an exchange between the two councillors within the chamber, with a debate over when the poppies should flower - in August, to mark the outbreak for the First World War, or in November when remembrance services are traditionally held to mark the end of the war.
Councillor Fitzgerald, who said she found the response ‘deeply offensive’, stressed her support of the scheme, as did independent colleagues.
She said: “It is an extremely offensive reply. My great uncle died in World War One and my uncle in World War Two serving their country. I thought I had made it clear we welcome this initiative of planting poppies.”
Councillor Phillips replied: “The question does not state you are in favour.
“They [the independents] are completely out of touchwith the people of Swansea, who have widely welcomed this”.