As Remembrance Day is almost upon us, the parishioners of Framfield have an additional cause for regret alongside that of our general sorrow for the fallen in all wars.
Readers of the Sussex Express will have learned that a massive local protest has been underway to oppose the decision of Framfield Parish Council to install a 50ft Telecoms Base Station mast in its recreation ground – a decision upheld by Wealden District Council on October 14.
Protesters understood that it was ‘a permitted development’ under current planning rules, but a petition of 400 plus signatures and over 200 letters of protest were sent to the council which they hoped would cause Wealden planners to at least consider discussing the proposal at a Council Members meeting.
Notwithstanding adverse affects on wildlife and human health, or the immediate proximity of its local school and play area, the primary crux of the protesters’ argument was that the huge mast is to be erected among a perimeter of trees planted in 1921 in memory of those from Framfield who fell in WW1 and did not return. This was the expressed wish of the returning soldiers, which at the time attracted massive private sponsorship and support from local farmers, landowners and individuals.
The soldiers’ wish has been ignored and trampled on by the myopic Parish Council and the indifferent, box-ticking apparatchiks of the Wealden Planning Department.
For it could have been stopped and given a fair hearing with Wealden Council members, but of course that was the fear – that common sense and decency could prevent the Framfield Parish Council receiving £40,000 for granting a 25-year lease on the mast plot on this historic, memorial recreation ground.
The hundreds of protesters, parishioners, their families, friends and former village inhabitants who pressed for that fair hearing, and were cynically bypassed and had their democratic voice of protest ignored, now take continued strength and undiminished determination from the final stanza of In Flanders Fields, the immortal poem by Major John McCrae, penned 101 years ago.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.