One of the country’s biggest Remembrance Sunday parades is on the verge of being cancelled because of police cuts.
Leicestershire Police have said they no longer have the resources to support parades like the one in Melton Mowbray next month.
It means that, for it to go ahead, the Royal British Legion will be forced to shell out for a private firm to provide marshals to line the route of the march on November 12.
But local organisers are horrified at the thought of the parade being called off.
Jock Bryson, 82, who organises the town’s poppy appeal, said: ‘It’s so important to Melton that we keep holding the parade, and the atmosphere is so phenomenal with the serving and ex-serving people marching through town.’
Residents are now desperately holding raffles and bake sales in an attempt to raise enough money to stage the march with private security.
Leicestershire Police said that there are around 500 fewer officers in the county than there were eight years ago.
Ch Sup Andy Lee said: ‘As a force we are keen to pay our respects and remember the fallen, and at some of the larger parades there will be a visible police presence to engage with the community and maintain public safety.
‘In order to support these Remembrance Day events we need to carefully manage our resources to ensure business-as-usual continues, and that our level of service across the whole county is maintained.
‘In previous years, officers in attendance at parades have been involved in assisting with road closures and traffic management along parade routes due to the lack of formal traffic management arrangements.
‘However, this had an impact on our day-to-day operations and demands. With budget cuts and reductions in officer numbers, we have to ensure officers are deployed where the operational risk is greatest and that there is a sufficient number of officers on duty to be able to respond to any incident.
‘This is not something that we can sustain alongside making sure we are able to respond to incidents anywhere in the county.’
Jim Rawlinson, chairman of the county’s Royal British Legion, said they could still put on a parade – but it would be trimmed down.
‘It’s a national problem, but it’s just caused us to think differently about things,’ he said ‘The parades will all go on, but people will have to marshal them themselves.’