Town council set to destroy ‘unsightly’ memorial benches at Soham cemetery - with owners given just one month’s notice to repair them

Notices were placed on dozens of memorial benches in Soham cemetery, warning owners that they will b

Notices were placed on dozens of memorial benches in Soham cemetery, warning owners that they will be destroyed unless they were repaired by March 21. - Credit: Archant

Soham Town Council has begun the process of removing and destroying memorial benches from the town’s cemetery because they consider them to be “unsightly.”

The notice gave owners one month to repair the benches. That deadline passed on March 21.

The notice gave owners one month to repair the benches. That deadline passed on March 21. - Credit: Archant

The council’s cemetery and allotments committee gave owners one month’s notice to repair a number of the cemetery’s 22 benches - which they believed were “not fit for purpose and unsightly” – by stapling notices to them, along with red and white striped tape on February 21.

That deadline passed on Tuesday, meaning that the council can now begin to remove and destroy the benches – some of which have been in the cemetery for years.

Abbi Flick was given one month to restore her family memorial bench by Soham Town Council. PHOTO: Ab

Abbi Flick was given one month to restore her family memorial bench by Soham Town Council. PHOTO: Abbi Flack - Credit: Archant

Soham resident Julie Giblin was one of the first people to notice the signs and shared the news via social media.

“No-one was aware of what was going on,” she said. “They had to find out via social media.

But Abbi took action and revarnished it, posting the results on social media. PHOTO: Abbi Flack

But Abbi took action and revarnished it, posting the results on social media. PHOTO: Abbi Flack - Credit: Archant

“Imagine how heartbreaking it would be to visit to the cemetery to find your bench had been removed and destroyed? It’s very insensitive of the council.

“People have had to pay for these benches to be there and the council would have known who own the benches so could have easily checked their records and let them know that way rather than just sticking a notice on them.

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“They could have gone about it a better way, or could have met the bench owners half way and offered to do it themselves.”

The cemetery and allotments committee decided to take action during a meeting on February 20, and got to work posting the notices the next day.

“No other effort was made to let the owners know,” Mrs Giblin said.

“The council has acted in an insensitive way and it has left a nasty taste in the mouth.”

One owner who managed to save her bench from the chop was Abbi Flack.

She made a last-minute trip to the cemetery to renovate the bench by scrubbing it with a wire brush and giving it a lick of paint.

She then posted the results on social media, saying: “I would have done them all to be honest.

“It was quite therapeutic but I didn’t want to upset the people that own them. I hope all the relatives have been contacted now.”

Her actions were praised on the Soham debate Facebook page, with one member posting “Well done you. I hope all the other benches get saved.”

Another said: “Well done – maybe the council might follow your example in the future rather than putting notices on them.”

Soham Town Council has been approached for a comment.

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