Anger at memorial garden ‘party’ closure
History and veterans groups have objected to a memorial garden being closed for a private function.
Mike Brundle, treasurer of the Rougham Control Tower Museum, was angry he could not get into the Appleby Rose Garden in Bury St Edmunds' Abbey Gardens on Saturday.
It houses a memorial to the American 94th Bombardment Group which was based at Rougham, plus memorials to the fallen of Dunkirk, D-Day, the Royal Anglian Regiment and RAF Honington.
Mr Brundle said benches and a 'private function' sign blocked the entrance.
"What we're annoyed about is the borough making money from it while people couldn't go in," he said. "We often get Americans visiting the museum and we direct them to the memorial. They may only be here for a day."
Museum chairman David Hardy added: "It's acceptable to use it for wedding photos but not to close it for a private party. It's a memorial to 1,800 men who were killed and wounded, not a party ground."
The gardens were funded by American John Appleby from proceeds of a book on his war service. Memorials were added later.
Ernie Broom, RAF Association Wing's Appeal organiser for Bury, said: "It's totally wrong. That memorial garden is there for all to see."
Jo Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for leisure, said: 'I understand that any disrespect would cause strong feelings, but I am absolutely clear that none was intended.
"About four times this year, couples committing to marriage have asked to briefly use this meaningful place.
"The Abbey Gardens remain free for all to enjoy but we must be creative with income generation and feel this is a sensitive way to do so."