Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sign with wrong date draws Remembrance Day crowds a week early

Red-faced council bosses have apologised after a road sign gaffe drew Poppy Day crowds a week early. Flintshire County Council highways staff put up signs in Connah’s Quay warning of road closures for Remembrance Sunday – but put Sunday’s date in error. More than 50 people – including local dignitaries and ex-service personnel – gathered on Connah’s Quay High Street near the Cenotaph, waiting in vain for the parade to come from the Civic Hall. Eventually they gave up and went home.

Critics have called the gaffe insensitive to the feelings of relatives of the fallen, and inconvenient to shopkeepers hit by a drop in trade from stayaway customers. Flintshire Council Labour group’s deputy leader Bernie Attridge attacked his council’s highways authority for wasting public money in tough economic times on signs informing people the road would be closed on November 7 instead of next Sunday, November 14. He said: “Between 50 and 70 people turned up in Connah’s Quay today. How can the highways department get it so wrong?

“Remembrance Day is a hard time for families who have lost love ones fighting for Queen and country. So this gaffe has caused unnecessary upset. How could it have happened? One elderly lady was literally in tears.” He felt traders lost the business of people staying away from shops on a supposedly closed town centre road. He added: “I want an immediate public apology from Flintshire County Council.”

Cllr Attridge posed beside a sign with fellow campaigners Carl Sargeant AM, Connah’s Quay Town Council chairman Kevin Kelly, and war veteran Graham Jenkins. Flintshire County Council leader Arnold Woolley, an Independent councillor, said: “If people have been inconvenienced and business people have had trade inhibited as a result of a county council error, that is to be deeply regretted and apologised for. I am willing to make that apology on behalf of the county council administration as a whole.”

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