COUNCIL bosses have defended holding “intentionally low key” unveilings of poignant statues to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War.

Maldon District Council has installed two steel soldiers and one steel sailor which will be in place for 100 days.

One solider is in Promenade Park in Maldon and another in Riverside Park, Burnham, with the sailor on Hythe Quay.

But the Burnham branch of the Royal British Legion and Burnham Town Council said a good opportunity to involve the community was missed after they were told nothing about it.

Instead district council chairman Henry Bass, vice chairman Neil Pudney, and councillors Bob Boyce and Andrew St Joseph held the ceremonies and posed for photos.

Jim Cousins, of the RBL, only discovered the statues on Sunday – the day before they were unveiled.

He said: “We knew nothing about it. The district council came up with this thoughtful gesture and they covered it in tarpaulin and no one knew about it.

“It was a very good gesture and we appreciate it in many ways, but the fact they were doing it without anyone having any knowledge at all seems unfortunate.

“We could’ve enjoyed it as a community.”

The RBL attended the Burnham event and took part despite not being formally invited.

Mr Cousins added: “There’s still a bit of simmering unease about it.

“If they have a reason for doing this way, then I would like to know.

“They missed a good opportunity to involve the community and it’s a bit sad in many ways.”

Town mayor Wendy Stamp said she was upset on behalf of the town.

She said: “I wasn’t very happy is the best way of putting it.

“Burnham town council wasn’t invited, and the residents weren’t invited either.

“It would’ve been nice to include us as a whole as well as the Royal British Legion and the residents if they wanted to come.”

However Maldon District Council defended the decision saying it had purposely kept the unveilings understated.

Richard Holmes, director of customers and community said: “The unveilings were intentionally low key, with simple covers removed and photos taken.

“They were not memorial events nor dedications.

“Our hope was as people discovered the figures it would encourage reflection and remembrance.

“For this reason there were no formal invitations nor any notices given.

“We apologise if any person or group felt excluded, but such feelings are misplaced, and it is indeed regrettable that any negativity surrounds such a poignant and lasting tribute.”