Police say sorry for Remembrance mix-up

Remembrance Sunday in Houghton Regis
Remembrance Sunday in Houghton Regis

Police have apologised for a mix-up which led to one man having to drive his mobility scooter into the road to halt traffic for the Remembrance Sunday silence in Houghton Regis.

The respectful crowd which gathered for the Act of Remembrance at the Memorial Stone, on The Green, watched in disbelief as cars roared past unchecked just before 11am.

Police had been asked to provide traffic control. But they were nowhere to be seen at the time.

Eventually, Andrew Roberts had to drive his electric scooter into the road to stop the traffic.

He said a police officer then appeared and rebuked him.

The incident was highlighted by Gazette letter-writer F. K. Russell, who asked: “What will it take for the police to respect the memory of those who have given their lives in the service of their country?”

Now the local policing team sergeant will discuss the situation with Houghton Regis Town Council today, to ensure a similar problem does not occur in the future.

The Houghton sergeant will also apologise to Mr Roberts.

Police said the High Street had been closed for the parade from All Saints Church to the Memorial Stone, but unfortunately was then reopened.

Mr Roberts, a Houghton town councillor, this week spoke to the Gazette in a personal capacity. He saw two officers shortly before 11am, but said they then disappeared.

Mr Roberts explained: “Everyone was saying: ‘Where have they gone?’”

He said: “It became obvious that the traffic was going to continue flowing so I actually put my scooter and myself into the centre of the road in time for 11am.”

Traffic in both directions stopped at least 10ft away from him. He said he did this “in a very sensible way”, and was joined by a fellow councillor.

He said a “perturbed” police officer then reappeared and told him to remove himself and his scooter from the road, while he was already doing so.

Mr Roberts did not recognise the officers at the scene and said local police do “an excellent job”.

He was very upset afterwards. “I’m not too proud to admit I was in tears,” he said. Mr Roberts feels Remembrance events are “the most important time of the year”.

A Beds Police spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to Houghton Regis Town Council and to Councillor Andrew Roberts for the mix-up which occurred on Sunday morning at the Houghton Regis Remembrance service.”

He said two Special Constables and a PCSO were assigned to the High Street and closed the road as the parade went from the church to the Memorial Stone.

“Unfortunately it appears that the road did not remain closed as the two-minute silence was being observed,” he said. “When officers became aware of Councillor Andrew Roberts being in the middle of the road, they became concerned for his safety and offered advice.”

The local policing team sergeant will discuss the incident with the council, to ensure that a similar problem does not occur in future. The spokesman added: “The sergeant for Houghton Regis will also speak with Councillor Roberts directly to offer an apology on behalf of the force.”