MAYOR REPLIES TO MP
August 28 2015.
Sreve Saunders writes:
The Vietnamese Embassy has been in contact with Newhaven Town Council since 2013 regarding the association it discovered between Newhaven and Ho Chi Minh. It appears that in his early years, and well before rising to power in his home country, Ho Chi Minh worked on the Newhaven to Dieppe cross-channel ferry service.
Maria Caulfield is correct in that we have recognised this fact on one of the information banners on the West Quay along with other historical events such as the discovery of Lord Lucan's car in Norman Road in 1974. There is also a small commemorative plaque where the Embassy is hoping to site a more formal memorial of its own. The Vietnamese Embassy organised a competition for this memorial last year, but we have heard nothing from the Embassy for some time. If the Embassy gets in contact with us again regarding any proposals, we will of course need to agree any designs and go through the normal planning process and discuss the merits of such a scheme.
The tourism and cultural links with other countries is important for Newhaven and indeed the entire district. It is important that we look at all such opportunities. For example we have a vibrant Twinning Group in Newhaven that has forged close links with La Chapelle St. Mesmin, a town near Orleans in France, and our support of the ferry link itself is also well known.
The Vietnamese plans, and indeed the links to date, have not impacted financially upon the town other than the cost of the banner and a small reception in 2013. The provisionally proposed statue plan would require agreement from the present Council and would need planning consent from the District Authority, as well as permission from the land owner, but any costs will not be borne by the Town Council.
I am conscious of the depth of feeling held by some residents regarding the Vietnam War and the atrocities that occurred on all sides during that conflict. These concerns will be properly addressed and considered during any discussions about a memorial and in the assessment of an application for one to be sited in Newhaven.
Vietnam is now a peaceful, rapidly developing industrial and holiday destination country.
On a wider view, surely the simple lesson here is that we must all learn from the past and move towards a more positive future.