A council has quashed claims it banned a Remembrance Day parade after receiving criticism for scaling back the event.

One councillor fumed that it was "incredibly disrespectful to our fallen heroes".

Some councillors are angry that a military parade will not be going ahead for the second year in a row. 

Cllr Ben Woodruff, a West Oxfordshire district councillor who lives in Witney, said:  "I think it's disgraceful that our town council cannot be bothered to properly organise this event despite having staff paid for by our council tax to organise these events each year.

"They've had plenty of time to get this organised and have instead opted to scale it back to make it easier for themselves.

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"Those who gave their lives for our country deserve the utmost respect and this is incredibly disrespectful to our fallen heroes." 

A letter from the town clerk to councillors said there will be "no official military parade, but space and time allocated to facilitate groups who want to walk up or parade up, under their own jurisdiction, to the War Memorial being able to do so."

This year's act of remembrance will include The Last Post played by a bugler followed by two minutes' silence and then the Reveille.

The names of those then laying wreaths will be announced by pupils of Henry Box and Wood Green School.

The act of remembrance will be followed by a civic service at St Mary's Church.

Cllr Thomas Ashby, who represents the Witney West ward, said: "Very sadly, once again there will not be an official parade, however, groups have been informed that they can walk to the war memorial on their own accord.

"This is the second year in a row that there hasn't been an official parade and to be honest this is really poor planning."

He added: "Witney used to have a fantastic remembrance service and I hope the town council gets it right in the future there clearly just needs to be the will there to do it." 

Witney Town Council insisted that all arrangements have been made in consultation with the Royal British Legion which ran the military aspect of the parade until 2019, when the running of the service was given to the Town Council.

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During the pandemic in 2020, Witney Town Council posted a virtual remembrance service on You Tube.

Last year the service at the War Memorial was made a little shorter at the request of the Witney branch of The Royal British Legion and there was no parade but groups and organisations made their own way to the memorial.

The wreath laying element was also scaled back with just 11 wreaths being laid as part of the service - previously up to 40-plus wreaths were laid.

At the time the town council said the changes were made to limit the amount of standing time for ageing veterans and some of the very young that traditionally attend to pay their respects.

A spokesperson said: "Following consultation with the Witney branch of the Royal British Legion, after last year’s event, it was agreed that the Service and Act of Remembrance were the key parts of this community event and all groups have been included in the planning for this year’s service."

The service sheet shows there will be at least 28 organisations laying wreaths at the War Memorial including MP Robert Courts and representatives from Oxfordshire County Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.


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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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