Westminster local council opposes Holocaust Memorial in proposed site

Final decision to be made by government minister

New designs for the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial (photo credit: COURTESY: UK HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FOUNDATION)
New designs for the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial
(photo credit: COURTESY: UK HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FOUNDATION)
On Tuesday night, the City of Westminster local council, in central London, formally opposed proposals to establish a national Holocaust memorial in a prominent park adjacent to the Houses of Parliament.
The council said that it “fully supports the principle of a memorial and learning center in central London,” but said that the proposed location of Victoria Tower Gardens, abutting the Palace of Westminster, was problematic.
The UK secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, however, will have the final say.
The project has long been hampered by controversy because of the proposed location, with some in the Jewish community also opposed to situating the memorial in the Victoria Tower Gardens.
Following its decision, the Westminster City Council said that the memorial could adversely affect “the important national heritage in the park and close by, such as existing monuments,” as well as the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
In addition, it said that should the monument be positioned in the park, it would deprive the public of “valuable open, public green space in a very busy and popular location,” noting that 3.6 million people visit the site every year.
“As a council, we’re completely behind the principle of having a memorial and learning center in central London to commemorate those that lost their lives in the most heinous crimes of the 20th century,” said the Westminster City Council following the decision.
“We must never let people forget the Holocaust and need to always educate future generations to stop it from ever happening again.
“However, if it were Westminster City Council taking a decision on the application, it would have been refused on heritage grounds; the location in Victoria Tower Gardens, its size and design would cause considerable harm and would have a significant, detrimental impact on one of the few remaining green spaces on the Thames Embankment.”
The head of the UK Board of Deputies of British Jews, an umbrella body, had urged the councilors to support the project.
“A permanent commemoration to the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust is an important and timely project,” said Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl.
“At a time when the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling by the year, and when antisemitism is on the rise across Europe and in the UK, a permanent and visible memorial will serve as a constant reminder of the danger of complacency to those we elect to represent us.”