What a bomber! Stevenage tip ruling condemns art to a forced landing

The picture has now been destroyed.

The picture has now been destroyed. - Credit: Archant

A piece of artwork that depicted an iconic British warplane was needlessly destroyed the day before Remembrance Day.

When Brian Emsley from Knebworth went to Stevenage Waste and Recycling Centre on Monday he spotted that another visitor was throwing away a picture of an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

The man said Brian, 63, could take the picture – but after he put it in his car a workman from the site told him that taking it was theft, and it had to be destroyed.

Brian, who recently retired from working in public relations in London, said: “I was friends with Fred Arnold who recently died and was featured in the Comet.

“He flew the bombers during the Second World War and I think they’re marvellous machines. When I saw the picture I thought my son would love it on his wall.

“He’s just moved into a new flat and it would have been a really nice moving-in present for him.

“When I put it in my car this guy came over to me and demanded that I put it in the skip.

Most Read

“He said that taking it would amount to stealing and I was being recorded on CCTV.

“He wouldn’t give me his name but said he was the site manager and that he couldn’t do anything because of the policies and procedures of the tip.

“When I heard this I just couldn’t believe what he was saying and the whole thing made me really angry.

“Why does it matter if I took that picture, it’s only going to be destroyed and go into landfill anyway.

“And for someone to say that it would count as theft is beyond ridiculous. The person who owned the photo said I could have it.

“All this came just the day before Remembrance Day and to destroy such an iconic British machine is such a shame.”

A spokesman for Herts County Council said: “We are grateful for the Comet bringing this matter to our attention, and we have raised it with our contractors AmeyCespa who run the site.

“The policy at all our Household Waste Recycling Centres is that people cannot take items away from sites for safety reasons.

“While the site manager was following this rule, the situation could have been handled more sensitively and AmeyCespa apologise for any offence or distress that this may have caused.

“We are in the process of introducing a ‘reuse’ scheme across all household waste recycling centres in the county, which will allow residents to buy items that have been discarded.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter