THE resident behind a letter petitioning for the removal of a temporary war statute which gained national attention has spoken to clarify their comments.

Wylam Parish Council discussed a letter received from the resident which suggested the Silent Soldier statue, installed during the First World War centenary in 2018, should be removed as its position so close to the village's permanent war memorial represented 'creeping nationalism' and came across as 'anti-inclusive'.

Following a national backlash, the local resident released a statement on Friday to address the comments made in the letter.

They said: "I am horrified at how my letter to the village parish council has been interpreted and I regret the choice of words that enabled this misinterpretation.

"It should have been better drafted. To be absolutely clear, I don’t believe that the war memorial is ‘anti-inclusive’ and I am a huge admirer of the existing long-standing war memorial located nearby.

"The letter concerned the aesthetics of the temporary memorial only. I would not like to be wrongly thought to be an individual who doesn’t respect the history of this country and the sacrifice that so many have made.

"I firmly believe that the fallen soldiers of WW1 should have a fitting memorial within the village, and, that it should be the decision of the community as a whole as to whether this temporary memorial should be removed. I hope that this sufficiently clarifies the true position.”

Wylam Parish Council also released a statement following the national media attention.

The statement read: "There has been reporting in the press that a resident recently contacted Wylam Parish Council seeking the removal of the silent soldier temporary memorial located in Wylam on the basis that it “is anti-inclusive” and “exhibits nationalism”.

"This is not in our view a proper interpretation of the resident’s letter, and, given that it has led to press coverage as well as some inappropriate behaviour online, we believe that it is right for us to clarify the position in a genuine attempt to clear up any misunderstanding.

"The letter suggested that the parish council might discuss whether the temporary memorial remains necessary and/or appropriate, particularly given that its condition had started to deteriorate some two years after it was first put in place (with the original plan being only that it would remain in position until Remembrance Day in 2018).

"The concern of the individual was that the temporary memorial might detract from the existing war memorial which is, as was noted by the individual, a very fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by so many.

"It was clear to us that the resident was not in any way against war memorials or the armed forces (in fact, we understand that they previously raised funds for veterans’ charities), and, that they were expressing a perfectly reasonable view.

"Furthermore, the correspondence in question, as with any such correspondence with the parish council, was intended to remain anonymous.

"The resident in question was entitled to expect that their identity would never be made public.

"The fact that the resident’s identity may have at one point temporarily and in breach entered the public domain does not mean that the individual in question is not entitled to continuing confidentiality. We trust that the position of the council is now clear."

The letter from the resident, in its entirety, is printed below:

I was wondering whether it’s possible to petition for the removal of the soldier figure from the war memorial?

I’m yet to find anyone that feels it adds to the look of the village and it seems odd that it stands next to a perfectly good war memorial that has stood there for many years.

It looks a little like an ice cream advertising board and is something of an eyesore.

I don’t think it is needed, it doesn’t look good and it seems to be more of a nod to a desperate desire to ‘show respect’ for a war that ended many decades ago.

I think it represents a creeping nationalism that is not really in keeping with the village’s inclusive nature more than it represents any kind of memoriam or urge to remember the sacrifice of so many.

I was hoping that this request may find some sympathy within the parish council and you might be able to motion for the removal?