As the trustees of the General Maczek Memorial Trust, we are conscious that it is some time since we have provided you with an update on the progress of the project. I would like to reassure you that we have been busy, fundraising and planning for the installation of the bench. Having unveiled the maquette earlier this year, we have met with different groups and individuals to promote the trust from interest groups to charitable trusts. We have also been in discussion with the Polish government regarding funding and made an approach to the Scottish government, both of which are in progress. We are very grateful for the support we have had thus far and are delighted to have raised just under £40,000 to date - with further significant donations currently in the pipeline.
Since the initiative began, back in 2012, there have been meetings with the City of Edinburgh Council whose support from the outset has been very helpful and positive. On that basis we knew that an application for planning consent would be necessary as we approached the time of commissioning the sculpture but that this would be something of a formality, going through the appropriate committees. Unfortunately, a recent conversation has suggested otherwise. Over the past five years, based on those meetings with the Council, our understanding has been that a bench with a sculpture of the General sat upon it would be acceptable as it was just that, a bench. A major part of the reason behind this decision was the City of Edinburgh District Council Order Confirmation Act 1991, which restricts the installation of any building on The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (amongst other public spaces in the city). However, the legal perspective at the Council now suggests that the sculpture being a bench is not possible. It will therefore require a Private Membersí Bill in order to erect the bench on The Meadows. This is clearly far from ideal as it is a lengthy, and expensive, process. Roddy Harrison is using his legal expertise to work out the best possible solution and we are in regular dialogue with the Council and its legal department. This unexpected hurdle is clearly hugely regrettable, at this stage of the project, which is already well overdue.
On behalf of all of the trustees, please be assured that we are doing all that we can to resolve this as soon as we can, and will continue to push forward with fundraising in the meantime. This is a project that we are all totally dedicated to seeing through to completion. We are keenly aware that this must happen as soon as possible to commemorate the remarkable achievements of General Maczek and the men who fought so bravely with him.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Archie, Roddy or me.
For those of you who may be attending the launch of the Scottish Polish heritage of WWII: Life Stories exhibition at the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London on Saturday, I look forward to seeing you there.
With kindest regards,
On behalf of the General Maczek Memorial Trustees