Poppies laid to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War have been unceremoniously brought down in their prime by council contractors.

The poppies laid on roadside verges as part of Oving parish Council’s centenary celebrations were mowed down by West Sussex County Council contractors this week.

Parish council bosses say both the county council and contractor management teams have apologised for the error.

Sophie Martins, clerk of Oving Parish Council, said: “The county council have got in touch and have formally apologised and are planning to make good on their error.

“It’s sad but it was a mistake and they have promised that they will make reparations although I don’t know what they will be.

“We scattered them all across the parish so hopefully some are left in other areas.

“I suppose we should be grateful that the highways department are doing their job and trimming the verges.”

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said she was "dismayed and distressed" at the incident and will be asking questions in city hall as to how it could have happened.

She said: "This is a very sensitive and important anniversary which we have commemorated ourselves and we are very thankful to all towns and villages and parishes, including Oving, that have helped commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Great War.

“This was a genuine error. Apologising unreservedly seems inadequate for the potential offence that this may have caused.”