Shaftesbury's new war memorial sparks probe by English Heritage
ENGLISH Heritage could take legal action following the installation of a war memorial in Shaftesbury.
A spokesman said unauthorised works had been carried out at Park Walk and an investigation was under way to see if a criminal offence had been committed.
An English Heritage expert was due to visit the site this week.
The action follows criticism of the design and the action of Shaftesbury town councillor and former mayor Lester Dibben, who led the £33,000 project to commission and erect a monument near an existing memorial and close to Shaftesbury Abbey.
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The new Portland stone memorial and another one being created at The Maltings development on the eastern edge of Shaftesbury are due to be dedicated in a ceremony on 14th September.
But now English Heritage has stepped in to investigate the memorials to The Rifles, the regiment that incorporates the Dorset Regiment.
A spokesman said: "We are aware that certain works have been undertaken involving the erection on a stone memorial and associated metalwork at Park Walk at a Scheduled Monument known as Shaftesbury Abbey.
"These works are unauthorised as they have been carried out without Scheduled Monument Consent. English Heritage is taking this matter very seriously and is currently investigating.
"We have asked Shaftesbury Town Council whether it was responsible for commissioning the works relating to the erection of the new memorial and we plan to visit the site this week."
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 provides that it is a criminal offence for a person to execute, cause or permit to be executed, works to a scheduled monument without Scheduled Monument Consent.
A person convicted of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5,000 or on indictment to an unlimited fine.
Mr Dibben said earlier this month that he was not aware of complaints about the new memorial from members of the public and that donations totalling more than £20,000 in cash and materials proved it was supported by the community.
He said the monument did not need planning permission or the consultation process as it was an addition to the existing memorial.
But the Park Walk monument had prompted strong criticism from residents including Barry Freeman, who described it as a carbuncle that jarred with its surroundings.