ST GEORGE’S CHAPEL: Museum campaigners vow to fight on after hosting elections husting in Biggin Hill

By Luke King in Community News

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to plans for a museum attached to St George’s Chapel in Biggin Hill have vowed to fight on.

Members of the Biggin Hill Chapel Action Group hosted parliamentary candidates for the Orpington constituency, which includes Biggin Hill, for an elections husting on Tuesday evening.

After speeches and questions for the candidates, the meeting discussed the controversial museum scheme being advanced by the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust, which proposes the demolition of the chapel vestry.

Reflecting on the meeting, held at the WI hall in Lebanon Gardens, Action Group member David Evans, said: “I think [Ukip candidate] Brian Philp went down the best - Ukip are pretty strong in Biggin Hill.

“Nigel de Gruchy [Labour] had a bit of difficulty, particularly with immigration. All the candidates did well, and received a round of applause.”

Ukip candidate Dr Brian Philp MBE proposed a motion stating: “This meeting rejects the Trust’s current proposals for the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum at the RAF Chapel as inappropriate and requests Bromley council to reconsider the planning application in a fair and balanced way.” It was subsequently passed by a show of hands.

Conservative candidate Jo Johnson, who is hoping to be returned as MP for Orpington constituency, was unable to attend the event but prepared a statement which was read to the meeting.

It read: "No design will please everyone, but this has been a long time coming as a project and we should avoid letting the best be the enemy of the good in case all the effort in getting the project to this stage again comes to nothing.

“That would be a great shame. It is by general recognition terribly overdue and I hope everyone can rally behind it and continue to generate good ideas for its development.

“For my part, I have worked hard alongside local councillors Julian Benington and Melanie Stevens to raise very considerable funding from central government via the Libor fund and of course I very much want the new museum to enjoy the full support of the whole Biggin Hill community.”

In response to Mr Johnson’s statement, Action Group member Rita Radford said: “When George Osborne gave these funds, it was to preserve the chapel, not to partially demolish it.

“Why is the funding tied to this awful design? If the airmen in World War II had been content with the good rather than the best we would not have a chapel to preserve.”

Sir Winston Churchill gave his backing to the Grade II listed St George’s Chapel of Remembrance, located on the site of the former RAF station at Biggin Hill, saying it should be a permanent feature to remember "the few" who gave their lives during the Second World War battle.

To find out more about the Trust’s plans for a museum on the site, visit www.bhmm.org.uk.

The candidates for the Orpington constituency are Nigel De Gruchy (Labour); Alex Feakes (Liberal Democrat); Tamara Galloway (Green Party); Jo Johnson (Conservative); Brian Philp (Ukip).

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