THIEVES who wrenched a plaque commemorating Ribble Valley’s Second World War dead from the gates of Clitheroe Castle have been branded ‘degenerate and disrespectful’.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has joined police and borough council community services boss Simon Hore in appealing for the return of the bronze plate and help identifying the culprit.

The theft earlier this week was the second such incident after another plaque was taken from the wall of the former Clitheroe Well in Wellgate.

It was later discovered discarded in nearby undergrowth.

The bronze memorial plaque was securely bolted to a stone post at the main gates of the Norman castle in the centre of Clitheroe.

It has the wording: ‘Borough of Clitheroe. These gates and entrance gardens were provided in memory of those who gave their lives in the World War 1939-1945’.

The theft was reported to police on Monday.

MP Mr Evans said: “The person or people who did this are degenerate and disrespectful.

“They have no concep of the sacrifice made by those commemorated by the plaque.

“If anyone knows anything about who took the plaque and where it is, then they should contact the authorities.”

Cllr Hore, chairman of Ribble Valley Council’s community services committee, said: “This is a particularly thoughtless act that is both disrespectful and damaging to a historic monument.

“We will be assessing damage to the ancient stonework caused by the forced removal of the plaque and are determined to recover any repair costs.

“We are studying CCTV footage and asking anyone with information to step forward.”

Police are investigating the theft. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.