AN MP has piled pressure on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a bid to unlock vital funding for a national centre of remembrance after learning that it was no longer receiving grants from the body.
Michael Fabricant, who represents Lichfield, has now launched a campaign to try and negotiate a cash boost for the National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas.
He made the move after uncovering that the popular site now receives no funding from the MoD as a result of the tightening of public finances.
He said: “This is an embarrassment and a national disgrace.
“The National Memorial Arboretum and the Armed Forces Memorial are an iconic centre for remembrance.
“I know that public finances are tight, but visitors to the site are a testimony to the project’s success, which rivals that of the Cenotaph in London.
“In parliamentary questions to the MoD, I have ascertained that funding does not match visitor numbers of other attractions and the MOD are now aware of this too.
“In a parliamentary answer, the junior MoD minister has told me that in 2012-13, The Royal Navy Museum had 585,276 visitors and will receive as a grant from the MoD in 2014-15 of £3,444,000 to support it.
“Similarly, the National Army Museum had 254,108 visitors and will receive £6,540,000 and the Royal Air Force Museum had around 500,000 visitors and will receive £8,336,000.
“But the grant has been cut to the National Memorial Arboretum.
“It had 244,944 visitors in 2012-13 but now will receive no grant at all – except for £625,000 found from another fund not managed by the MoD.
“I shall work with the arboretum to pile the pressure on the Ministry of Defence into supplying adequate funding.”
The Mail understands that talks are now under way with bosses from the arboretum, which is home to dozens of memorials spanning a range of conflicts, and senior officials at the MoD in an effort to see if they can access some form of funding.
An MoD spokesman rejected Mr Fabricant's accusation it had cut funding."The Government has extended, not cut, funding to the National Memorial Arboretum," he said."When funding was due to end last year, the Government found a further £625,000 to maintain this important memorial to those who served our country."He also said the MoD provided additional funding to preserve the Armed Forces Memorial.