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Society: Council's "abject failure" to protect town's heritage
THE CHAIRMAN of a society campaigning for funding to repair a historic Marlow landmark has slammed the "abject failure" of the council responsible for maintaining it.
Martin Blunkell and the Marlow Society have been lobbying Bucks County Council since 2012 to carry out work on the Grade II listed obelisk at the top of the High Street.
The waypoint marker for travelling coaches was erected in 1822, and has deteriorated in recent years with whole sections of stone lettering having crumbled and broken away.
After repeated attempts to get Transport for Buckinghamshire to carry out maintenance works, Marlow Town Council and the Marlow Society are now planning to apply for lottery funding to regenerate the stone.
And Mr Blunkell said the county council is failing the people of Marlow in trying to protect their heritage.
He said: "This is a Grade II listed structure and it seems an abject failure on Bucks County Council’s part to look after it. They had not considered that they should put some money aside to maintain it.
"BCC have failed in their duty as they are responsible for the obelisk. They failed us and they continue to do so.
"They answer we got tells us they have not got any money to pay for our heritage. If you do not understand your history understand your heritage, and it is important we do.
"If they had a maintenance plan, including inspections, it would not have got as bad as it has. But ten out of ten for Marlow Town Council for trying to get this sorted out."
The obelisk, which sits in the centre of the roundabout at the top of the High Street, was part of a turnpike route between Hatfield, Wycombe, Marlow and Bath.
The journey was made by travellers who wanted to take the benefit of the spa waters in Bath and became known as the ‘Gout Route’.
Marlow Town Council is currently finalising a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for the repairs, which includes repairing the south facing side of the large stone where the lettering has fallen away.
The society estimates the bill will run to around £8000.
But the criteria for a grant of up to £10,000 must prove the scheme has a real community benefit, with councillors and society members currently exploring ways of getting Marlovians involved in the rejuvenation process.
Rosemary Bryant, spokesman for Transport for Bucks, said there were no funds currently in pace to carry out the work.
She said: "I have spoken to the local area technician who was given the quote for repair last year. As the condition of the obelisk does not pose a safety hazard, there is not unfortunately funding for this work at present.
"However, this may be considered by the South West Chilterns Local Area Forum local through their delegated budget if it is a high priority for the local community."
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