BY DENISE HYLAND
I’d like to take this opportunity to explain to residents the situation regarding the site where Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich.
I know that the good people of this borough care about his tragic death and you know that we, as a united council, listen intently to the views of his widow and his parents.
It’s important to remember that the council’s decision to remove items left at Wellington Road was in response to requests not only from nearby residents but also Fusilier Rigby’s family who chose St George’s Garrison Church as the spot where they wanted people to show their respects.
We care a great deal about the memory of Lee and that is why we have placed an official memorial to him, along with others – like Jake Alderton, who also died for his country – at the church near the army barracks.
I’m proud that councillors from all parties came together in a show of unity when a group of activists tried to disrupt a recent full council meeting.
It was thoroughly unpleasant that some people were looking to rake up the brutal murder in a racist and abusive political point-scoring exercise.
Below is a short excerpt from a speech that I gave to full council before protestors began to heckle and had to be ejected by the police.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the police for their management of the situation – both inside the chamber and those ‘protesting’ outside – and allowing democracy to prevail.
“In the aftermath of Lee Rigby’s death and the other appalling incidents that we have faced up to in this borough, I still recall how we came together; how we united as an area. How we chose to go on protecting diverse and tolerant values; to tell the enemies of what we stood for that they were not welcome. I know everyone else around here feels the same. I know no one in this borough will ever forget him.
“Our decision to remove the items left at Wellington Street came out of respect for this. The site had become a free-for-all. We wanted to clean it up to show respect for the disciplined, dignified and proud tradition, which he and others in the forces stand for. We listened to our communities and acted accordingly. Some may not be happy about that, but I maintain it was the right choice.
“I believe all members in this chamber stand united in this regard. We have worked tirelessly and privately with Lee’s family to ensure their wishes are respected. And we are every inch as proud of this borough and this country as anyone.”
You can read my speech in full by visiting www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/news/article/1140/statement_about_lee_rigby_unofficial_memorial_from_the_leader
Denise Hyland is leader of Greenwich council