A Herefordshire town council has been slammed for “systemic failures” over a decade in its handling of the restoration of its war memorial.

Ledbury Town Council appointed IAC Audit & Consultancy director Kevin Rose to look into its management of the troubled project to restore the grade II listed memorial, a prominent landmark in the town centre.

Mr Rose visited the council offices in January to scrutinise its records, but said in a later email to the council that the report he had been asked to produce would not address the “key issue” of whether the council had adequately overseen the work.

Apart from commissioning an initial survey of the memorial, “failure to appoint expert supervision is the root cause of the subsequent failure to successfully deliver the project” – a failure dating back “at least” to 2013.


Councillors and officers “attempted to manage a complex project on a very sensitive community asset with a total absence of qualified advice or supervision”, he said.

“This is a case study of how not to deliver such a project.”

Mr Rose’s email was raised by Coun Mal Hughes at a town council meeting on March 30, at which he suggested the council “make a full and unreserved apology to the people of Ledbury”.

No such apology has yet been forthcoming. The town’s mayor Coun Phillip Howells was asked for comment.

Erected by public subscription in 1920, the Ledbury War Memorial bears the names of 82 men of the town who fell in the First World War, and a further 43 lost in the Second.

To mark its centenary, its plinth, surrounding paving and a section of the spire were to be restored thanks to a gift to the town of over £30,000 from Stuart Heaton, a Bomber Command veteran and former Ledbury resident.


But carrying out the work has been protracted and contentious, and a legal dispute between the council and one contractor has yet to be concluded.

At a March 23 meeting of the council’s finance, policy and general purposes committee, Coun Ewen Sinclair said the council “has tried to hide from its responsibility” for the war memorial issue, and demanded “an apology from the Mayor, and for him to resign and not stand in Ledbury again”.

In 2021, Mr Rose separately produced a report critical of the council’s handling of a complex legal dispute with one of its own councillors, concluding that it had “failed to identify and manage the risks associated with the legal cases in which it was engaged” or to give councillors proper legal advice on key decisions.