The Police are speaking to the Friends of Shepley group following their latest rant on social media.
Last week group leaders accused villagers of vandalising the box hedging around the war memorial in Shepley. They posted pictures of the alleged damage in their Facebook group and demanded to know who was responsible.
However, it now seems that the box hedging was removed in good faith by a member of Shepley's War Memorial plaque committee.
Originally initiated by the village association and now led independently by villagers representing groups from across the community, the committee's aim is to find a suitable place for one of the bronze plaques stolen from the memorial back in the 1970s. The plaque was recently recovered from the bottom of a lake and appeared at auction. Local councillors were tipped off and the plaque was reunited with the village.
The committee member had removed the box hedging so that a stone could be put in place upon which the stolen plaque is to be mounted. Yet, despite the member concerned informing the Friends of Shepley, the group still pressed the Police for a prosecution. With complete disregard for Facebook's own community guidelines, they even named the committee member, made personal derogatory remarks against them, and failed to discourage other group members from doing the same.
The committee member wishes to keep a low profile following the online abuse. However, they did contact the police immediately after being tipped off about the allegations of criminal damage and personal abuse made against them. The person met up with and explained matters to, the Police.
The individual told us
"Unfortunately, the Friends of Shepley confronted me recently. They claimed that anyone who wishes to do any work in the wood must get their permission. I don't think so. They don't own the place. I was quite firm and they obviously didn't like it."
Several other villagers have also raised concerns over 'conservation' projects the Friends have carried out in the woods without appropriate skills, knowledge or experience. Or planning permission! They mentioned that the Friends of Shepley drove out a village association-led conservation group a couple of years ago. The group had members with specialised horticultural and arboreal skills. Plus, recognised educational qualifications.
"The War Memorial was supposed to look down on the village and serve as a reminder to future generations about the horror of war," one angry villager said. "You can't see it now for trees. We should chop them down and preserve the memorial woods as our forbears had originally intended."
No community interest
Following the evidence of its latest rants on social media, we no longer recognise the Friends of Shepley as a community group which is working in the interests of the village.
Shepley's War Memorial belongs to the village and to the memory of all those killed in action since the Great War 1914-1918.
Not to a divisive, exclusive group that can't get on with the community it claims to represent!
We were unable to contact the Friends of Shepley for comment about the accusations of criminal damage and subsequent personal attacks made on Facebook.