Edinburgh City Council says there will be investigation into burning of memorial benches

Edinburgh City Council has stated that it has launched an investigation into reports staff had burned memorial benches.

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 3:40 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th January 2020, 4:10 pm
Pictures provided to the Evening News which show the benches on fire (Photo: Contributed)

Photos passed to the Evening News showed wooden benches - which had been removed from West Princes Street Gardens more than a year ago - being burned by council staff.

The burning took place at the authority's depot in the Inch area of the city, involving around 70 wooden benches which were damaged. The benches should have been recycled where possible in line with council policy.

Council whistleblowers told the Evenign News that instead of patching up damaged benches, managers at the council are instead telling staff to dumpi the benches on a bonfire to save money from their budgets.

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• READ MORE: Memorial benches set on fire by Edinburgh council depot workers to 'save money' in manager's budgetA council spokeswoman said in a statement it was "regrettable" that standard protocol was not followed.

An investigation has been launched to establish why the rules were not followed.

The memorial plaques which adorned the benches, bought by people to commemorate loved ones who have passed away, were removed before the burning took place.

Council officials say the benches had been decommissioned. However, they were due to be recycled instead of burned.

When a bench is damaged, staff at the authority attempt to contact the donors who paid for the bench, leaving up to a year for them to get in touch before taking the decision to recycle them.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "We have a very clear policy in place to decommission benches respectfully when they reach the end of their life.

"This involves storing the benches and plaques and reaching out to donors to discuss future arrangements, and this was correctly followed.

"Standard practice is to recycle the parts of the benches which can be reused and very regrettably this part of the process was not followed.

"An investigation is underway to understand why this has happened and appropriate action will be taken."

Wooden benches similar to the ones which were set alight generally cost £3,925, with metal versions setting donors back £1,965.