Starmer backs 'vital' Westminster Holocaust Memorial

EXCLUSIVE: Labour Leader says plan is "vital"


Sir Keir Starmer has said it is “vital” that the UK remembers and educates about the Holocaust through the proposed Memorial and Learning Centre in Westminster.

The Labour leader will emphasise the national importance of the project on Wednesday afternoon at a meeting with the co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, Ed Balls and Lord Eric Pickles.

Sir Keir told the JC it was “disappointing” that nearly two years after a planning application was submitted for the project in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to Parliament, permission for the Memorial and Learning Centre has still not been granted.

Throwing his “wholehearted support” behind the proposal, estimated to be costing £100 million, Sir Keir said: “It is vital for our nation that we commemorate the six million Jewish men, woman and children murdered during the Holocaust. It is more important than ever that we educate current and future generations of the horrors of genocide and persecution.

“The fight against intolerance and prejudice in our society, and the stain of antisemitism, goes on. So I offer my wholehearted support to the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre and its placement next to the heart of our democracy. “

The Labour leader’s intervention follows support for the Westminster Memorial from former Labour Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair as well as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Sir Keir said: “It is disappointing that, despite almost two years passing since the planning application was submitted, permission for the project has still not been granted. I urge the Planning Inspector to recognise the national significance of this project, as a reminder of what can occur when hatred takes hold in society.”

Former Conservative PM David Cameron pledged to have a Holocaust memorial in central London in 2015. Theresa May then gave her backing to the Victoria Tower Gardens plan after she became PM.

At a service in London on Holocaust Memorial Day in January, Boris Johnson promised that a national Holocaust memorial and education centre will be built.

Victoria Tower Gardens is a Grade II-listed park and forms a small triangular green space next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament - collectively designated as a World Heritage Site. A planning application for the sight was first submitted to Westminster City Council in December 2018.

In November 2019 Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick decided to call in the planning application for determination at the national level because of the project’s significance.

The government is facing a legal challenge by the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust over its decision-making process on the Memorial.

Lawyers for the government have argued Mr Jenrick performed his duties in making decisions over the Westminster Holocaust Memorial “in an objective manner and avoiding a conflict of interest.”

There will shortly be a public inquiry chaired by a planning inspector who will decided on the project.






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