Widower’s fury as wife’s memorial stones removed
Mr Norman Crompton planted a silver birch tree on land opposite his house in Pendle Street East, Sabden, belonging to Ribble Valley Borough Council as a tribute to his late wife, Patricia, who died of cancer in October, 2012.
He claims he was given the go-ahead by council officials to place some quarry stones around the tree. However, he was left shocked and upset when the council contacted him, asking him to remove the stones due to health and safety concerns.
Mr Crompton said: “Patricia was a keen gardener and a lover of all wildlife. I wanted to do something that would commemorate her life. I decided against a fancy tombstone , as I knew she would not have appreciated it. On contacting the council, it was initially agreed that I could plant a tree within that triangle of land. It was also agreed that I could purchase a park bench, which was placed near the tree.
“I then purchased half a ton of matching stones and with the help from a neighbour the stones were placed around the tree. Within the confines of the stones I sowed thousands of wild flower seeds, which duly bloomed and local residents admired the area.
“A few months later, I was informed that the council wanted the stones that they had previously authorised to be removed due to health and safety. They explained that because it was council-owned land that they would be liable should a child fall over them.”
Mr Crompton added: “People in Sabden have come up to me and cannot believe the council removed the stones. One resident even asked when the council would be collecting the bench, as it was far more likely that child would injure itself falling off the bench than the stones!
“If the stones around the tree are considered dangerous, does the same rule not apply to the stones adjacent to the nearby bus stop?
Ribble Valley Borough Council’s head of cultural and leisure services, Mark Beveridge, said: “We have worked with bereaved families for many years to establish suitable memorials in the borough for loved ones.
“We agreed a location with Mr Crompton for a bench and tree in memory of his late wife. He subsequently extended this to include a planted area around the tree, which we have also agreed to, as long as he maintains it.
“However, following concerns expressed by Sabden Parish Council, we revisited the site and discovered the addition of rocks that are unsafe and inappropriate.
“The area is an open space for local people and, while we respect the intentions of Mr Crompton, the rocks are not in the best interests of public safety or visual amenity of the site.”