Camden’s 2017 Anzac Day service in Bicentennial Park is in doubt following a dispute between the local RSL Sub-Branch and Camden council.
RSL’s in the Blue Mountains recently announced their marches would be cancelled because they could not afford to pay for additional anti-terrorism measures required by police.
Camden RSL Sub-Branch president Iain Richard-Evan said the Camden march would go ahead, however, the service was “up in the air”.
Mr Richard-Evan said the trees behind the flag polls had become overgrown and were ripping apart the flags when they were raised.
He said he had continually raised the issue with the council – which own the park – but his pleas had been ignored.
“Lying and raising the flags are part of the service,” he said.
“And the flags are an important part of the Last Post.
“I’ve been trying to get the trees fixed for months and months and months and it’s got to the point where I told the council there would be no Anzac Day service (if the trees aren’t trimmed).
“They’ve said ‘yes, we will get this done’ but it’s gone on for months.
“But we are still up in the air at the moment.
“I’m hopeful of a resolution but we are still months behind preparation because of the unhelpful council.”
Camden mayor Lara Symkowiak took to the Advertiser’s Facebook page to defend council.
“I am extremely disappointed with Mr Richard-Evan's comments about council,” she said.
“I spoke to Mr Richard-Evan on Monday (9 January) about this issue and assured him the work would take place later this month, well ahead of ANZAC day.”
Cr Symkowiak said Mr Richard-Evan had an onsite meeting with council just before Christmas where he was advised council would undertake the work required.
“Council has always supported Anzac Day and always will and we have always worked very hard with the RSL sub-branch every year to ensure Anzac Day is given the respect and reverence it deserves.”
Mr Richard-Evan said another local tribute to Australia’s defence personnel – the Camden RSL Community Memorial Walkway – had also deteriorated due to neglect from the council.
The 8.8 kilometre path – which starts at Bicentenial Park, goes via several landmarks in the the township and ends at the memorial garden – represents the same five miles between the beach front and escarpment of Gallipoli.
“The walkway has also gone to ruin,” he said.
“It was built five or six years ago and $300,000 was raised to have it done.
“Weeds are growing over it and it will get to the point where grass grows over it and no one can see the track.
“There are days when I’m in tears because I try so hard to get things done but I can’t.
“I’ve got no fight left in me.
“It’s my personal opinion that there are people in council who don’t respect the RSL.”
Mr Richard-Evan said the state of the walkway would not affect whether the memorial service went ahead or not.