Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey says burning of memorial benches 'completely unacceptable'

Council leader seeks answers from chief executive

Sunday, 19th January 2020, 4:06 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 7:18 am
The damaged benches were burned at the council's Inch depot

COUNCIL leader Adam McVey will today meet city chief executive Andrew Kerr over how 70 memorial benches from Princes Street Gardens ended up being burned by council workers.

Councillor McVey described the incident, revealed by the Evening News on Saturday, as “completely unacceptable”.

Officials have launched an internal inquiry into why the damaged benches were burned at the council’s Inch depot.

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The council says it has a policy in place to decommission benches respectfully when they reach the end of their life, which means storing the benches while donors are contacted to discuss future arrangements. It says this procedure was correctly followed.

But standard practice is then to recycle the parts of the benches which can be reused but instead the benches were burned.

Council whistleblowers told the Evening News, managers at the council told staff to dump the benches on a bonfire to save money from their budgets.

Reaction from the public to was quick and clear, with people taking to social media to condemn the burning as “repulsive”, “shocking” “shameful” and “disgusting”.

Paul Kesterton said: “Unbelievable and so sad, sickening to think that this can happen”

Caroline Castle posted: “So many better alternatives than this. If the benches needed restoring there are many people who would have happily volunteered to do that. Or they could have been sold, I’d have loved to buy one. What a shameful waste.”

Fiona Harrison told of her disgust. And she added: “I don’t trust the reasoning given either. I’m suspicious it’s to do with the wholesale commercialisation of the gardens by the council through Xmas stalls etc to the detriment of locals.”

Morningside Tory councillor Nick Cook said: “The director and convenor must make clear what they knew and when they knew it as part of detailing to councillors the action being taken to deal with individuals directly involved in this sickeningly disrespectful situation.”

Fellow Tory councillor Susan Webber added: “My heart sank when I read it, and I’m utterly lost for words. Disgraceful is all I can bring myself to say.”

Cllr McVey replied to the public concern yesterday by tweeting: “Completely unacceptable that benches were burned, which goes against council practice. I’ll be meeting the chief executive first thing tomorrow morning to ask serious questions about this & get a timeline for the investigation.”

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Memorial benches set on fire by Edinburgh council depot workers to 'save money' ...