Rethink call urged on memorial bench plan

NBENLMS110316C10 - Tributes to Tom Chandler at Whitemore receation ground in Belper
NBENLMS110316C10 - Tributes to Tom Chandler at Whitemore receation ground in Belper

the campaign to have a ‘memorial bench’ installed on a recreation ground in Belper in memory of Tom Chandler has won the support of Belper’s MP.

Pauline Latham has written to Amber Valley Borough Council, urging it to reconsider its stance.

The council had initially turned down a request from friends and family of the 19-year-old, who died in March, to have a memorial bench, complete with a plaque, put in at the Whitemoor Recreation Ground as it was not policy and might become an unofficial shrine that the council might not be able to manage on an on-going basis.

It has now agreed there can be a bench or a tree, but without a plaque.

Tom’s friends say they will pay for the bench and plaque, but the council say it is against its policy to allow memorial benches in parks.

The council has offered to put a memorial bench in Belper’s cemetery or memorial gardens.

Tom’s dad Jerry said they wanted a bench on the recreation ground because that is where his son spent a lot of time.

In a letter to Tom’s dad, Jerry, Mrs Latham said: “I am surprised to hear that Amber Valley Borough Council did not allow the bench at Whitemoor.

“It would indeed be a fitting memory for Tom given his connection to the place and somewhere where his many friends could remember him.”

Chris Beal, landscape officer at the council, said of the authority’s policy: “This is to ensure that relatives of the deceased person do not become upset if the plaque or stone becomes defaced or removed, and allows the council to relocate or remove seats which have become derelict or need to be relocated.”

Jerry said: “Should the council not look at each request on an individual basis?”