Bid to limit memorial benches at beauty spots

POPULAR parts of the coastline run the risk of becoming memorial areas if policies to control the placement of commemorative benches are not put in place, the head of the National Trust for Jersey has said.

Memorial benches on the coast at Le Hocq. Picture: JON GUEGAN (20760314)
Memorial benches on the coast at Le Hocq. Picture: JON GUEGAN (20760314)

Charles Alluto made the comments following the installation of hoards of benches in beauty spots around the Island such as St Brelade’s Bay, Archirondel, Le Hocq and Green Island.

He said: ‘I think the situation at Archirondel is a great pity – there is a danger that beautiful coastal spots could become memorial areas.

‘When people put memorial benches somewhere, they put them in a place where that person liked to go to.

‘If there are too many we run the risk of undermining that concept and changing the character of the area.’

Mr Alluto added that the benches often had flowers and other items attached which made people reluctant to use them.

‘There needs to be consistency and a policy where memorial benches have a limited lifespan. It is absolutely crucial that they do not become graveyards.

‘What can be easily forgotten is that these are benches for people to sit on but often you do not want to sit on them because they become too personal. It is like standing on someone’s grave.’

Memorial benches are not allowed on National Trust land, however Mr Alluto added that his organisation had taken an alternative approach by allowing items being used to restore their properties to be dedicated to deceased relatives.

He also said that trees could be planted on their property and dedicated to someone.

Meanwhile, Martin Gautier, director of technical services for the Infrastructure Department, said he thought that too many benches had been installed.

The department is now only allowing new benches to replace existing ones.

‘We get frequent, probably weekly requests, to put memorial benches on public land. It is quite a difficult situation as we have to try to balance the wishes of a bereaved relative with having a sensible approach,’ he said.

‘I personally feel that there are slightly too many. In St Brelade’s Bay there are about 16 in front of the L’Horizon.

‘I visited Green Island this week with the [Infrastructure] Minister and we agreed that there are too many but we are where we are.’

The officer added he thought former staff and ministers may have bowed to pressure when it came to requests to install the benches and that a more rigid approach had since been adopted.

He said: ‘It is quite a difficult area but our new man has been imposing a bit of order and we now only put in new benches to replace others when they come to the end of their useful lives.

‘I do not think we could go back to someone and ask them to remove one or just take it away ourselves, we would be inundated with complaints.’

Speaking about the situation at Green Island, he added: ‘In hindsight, there are certainly more than I would probably be comfortable with. There are not any more that are going to go in there.’

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