In this centenary year of the First World War, the Oxford Mail brings to life the heroism of those who fought in that catastrophe.
Among the numbers are several of my great uncles, who, although not from Oxfordshire, are among those who made the greatest sacrifice and are thereby linked to the many commemorated on the county’s war memorials. It is therefore with sadness I have discovered that, in my home village of Sutton Courtenay, the parish council, with total insensitivity, have decided to name a new housing estate Asquith Park, after the World War One Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, who is buried in the village churchyard.
Many readers will know that Asquith is deeply controversial. Numerous historians have demonstrated that he “sleepwalked” the nation into disaster and so mismanaged the conduct of the war, including culpability, some say, for the high casualty rates on the Somme, that he was removed by a political coup.
I have raised objections about this name to parish councillors, a minority are sympathetic; but feedback I have received is that others consider my protest an example of political correctness. This baffles me.
The developers of the estate, Redrow, have indicated they are “thinking about” the acceptability of the name; however the parish council, who can instigate change, choose not, so far, to reconsider. It is greatly to be regretted that some parish councillors feel so threatened by the idea, if not the actuality, of political correctness that they are willing to reject legitimate and heartfelt objection, in this centenary year.
A possible way forward would be for Redrow, perhaps at the prompting of Oxfordshire representation, to come up with an alternative. Maybe, then, the parish council would not deny them a change.
Sutton Courtenay Abingdon
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