Mayor of Lancaster calls for pubs ban after Morecambe war memorial vandalism

A protest was called at short notice after a Nazi graffiti attack on the war memorial in Morecambe. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service

Nazi vandalism at Morecambe War Memorial and other locations needs a widespread public reaction including from the pubs and football clubs, the Mayor of Lancaster has said.

The Mayor of Lancaster, Roger Dennison, said he wants to speak to local businesses and important institutions about responses to the Nazi graffiti incidents.

Mr Dennison, along with the political Leader of Lancaster City Council, Councillor Phillip Black, both spoke publicly at a protest at Morecambe War Memorial.

The protest was called at short notice after a Nazi graffiti attack on the war memorial.

It included a minute’s silence in memory of the servicemen of Morecambe and Heysham who died in the Second World War, and whose names are featured on the monument which was defaced.

Nazi graffiti including swastikas, SS symbols, slogans, racist and homophobic phrases has appeared at various Morecambe locations and around events including this summer’s Pride weekend.

Homophobic and anti-Semitic messages were left after Morecambe Pride in August. Credit: MEN Media

Mr Dennison told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There needs to be a public reaction to this. It’s dishonouring people who gave their lives fighting fascism.

"We need a widespread reaction. I’m going to write to the Licensed Victuallers’ Association and Morecambe Football Club on this.

“The swastika and slogan were sprayed on a monument with names of servicemen from this district who died resisting Nazism, which this vandal [or vandals] is trying to espouse.”

The Licensed Victuallers’ Association represents pub landlords.

Mr Dennison said that practical action could include pub and football club bans for anyone found guilty of the recent attacks. But there could be other action too. Any responses would be in addition to and separate from the police investigation.

He added: “I’m worried that there is some degree of organisation and planning with these graffiti incidents.

"We need to treat it at that level. There is no wrong spelling of the words or any other errors. There is planning that has gone into this, which is extremely worrying.”

This week’s protest at the war memorial included people with family links to local servicemen who died in World War Two, and whose names are on the monument.

The graffiti was left on the promenade in Morecambe during its Pride festival, and included drawings of swastikas and homophobic slurs. Credit: MEN Media

Labour Councillor Joanne Ainscough said her great-uncle, L J Artis, is among the names on the memorial. He was in the Seaforth Highlanders and died at Monte Cassino in Italy.

The battle at Monte Cassino in 1944 between Allied and Nazi German forces is seen as one of the key battles of the Second World War.

It involved a series of engagements over months to take control of a mountainous area which was part of German defences in Italy.

Many sources state the battles resulted in 55,000 Allied and 20,000 German casualties.

Also at the Morecambe event this week was a local Jewish man whose relatives experienced Nazi persecution in Hitler’s Germany.

CCTV of a hooded figure has been released by police after racist graffiti was spray painted across the town. Credit: Lancashire Police

Anthony Padgett warned that society today needs to fully understand the horrors of the Nazi era and the Second World War. Education is essential and action is needed to stop fascism emerging again, he said.

Malcolm Brown of the Royal British Legion spoke of local families involved in the services over generations, and of offence and hurt by the vandalism.

Art and regeneration organisation Deco Publique was also at the protest. It is involved with Morecambe promenade murals, some of which have been targeted.

Its other activities include the Vintage By The Sea event, a 90-mile Morecambe Bay art project and art in manufacturing projects in Pennine Lancashire.

Co-founder Elena Jackson said: “I think it’s really important for people to say we are all appalled at these acts of vandalism. It’s had an impact right across the community and on different groups targeted, including the Pride weekend.

“We wanted to come to the war memorial to show our support and solidarity. And to ensure there is a message of love and welcome from Morecambe. To show there are lots of good people who care and do good things.”

Johnny Bean of Lancaster Arts Partnership was with Elena. The partnership spans cultural projects and organisations including Morecambe Winter Gardens, More Music, the Promenade Concert Orchestra and Morecambe Artist Colony, plus theatres, groups and projects in Lancaster.

Johnny said: “The arts partnership has about 20 organisations across the whole Morecambe and Lancaster district.

"I support every word that Elena has said, about standing alongside all our communities here. It’s really important.”