24 November 2011
It’s such an insult to the local community that a bronze statue of one of Bermondsey’s most famous citizens - Dr Alfred Salter - has been stolen – by suspected scrap metal thieves.
Of course we could ask how people could do such a thing, but frankly it’s pointless. The type of person who would steal a statue that had such significance, and was held in such affection by local people, doesn’t care less about the community they live in.
And of course you could try to construct an argument about the recession, and people struggling to make ends meet – and it is true that across the country there has been an increase in metal theft, as it’s an easy source of income. That’s why these sorts of people are dismantling railway lines, vandalising war memorials, and plaguing churches and clubs by removing the lead from their roofs.
But this isn’t about doing whatever it takes to survive – it’s just about people who find it easier to steal, rather than put in the hard graft and earn a proper wage.
To add insult to injury, experts told us this week that the statue would probably fetch just a couple of hundred pounds – not that a higher price would have justified its theft.
There’s a huge irony here, which will be lost on the thieves, in that Dr Salter campaigned from early on in his adult life on behalf of the needy – upsetting colleagues by charging just sixpence for consultations with the poor.
With his wife Ada, he ran a convalescent home for Bermondsey patients and successfully campaigned for a solarium to treat tuberculosis sufferers. He did so much work for the area in his time as a Bermondsey MP, and should forever be remembered as a true champion of this part of London.
In all likelihood the statue has already been destroyed - but if you can help police to identify the culprits, please do. They deserve nothing less than to be publicly shamed - that is, if they are capable of feeling shame.
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