Welwyn Hatfield Council to charge families for upkeep of memorial benches

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 July 2013

Memorial bench

Memorial bench

Archant

MOURNERS in Welwyn Hatfield will soon be charged hundreds of pounds for the up keep of memorial benches.

Families who have paid for benches bearing plaques to remember their loved ones will now be charged £360 every 10 years to pay towards keeping seating up to scratch.

And Welwyn Hatfield Council has confirmed the charge would be applied to existing memorial benches.

This is on top of the £720 they will have had to pay for the bench when they first bought it.

Leaders ruled that because benches were often in areas of special significance, some seating was “not necessarily benefiting the wider public” but also said “and in popular areas there might be a surplus of benches”.

It has not been specified how many benches creates a surplus.

A report shown to cabinet members said by charging a fee for upkeep the council would benefit.

It states: “Going forward, the 10 year lease would generate new income each time it was renewed to cover the cost of maintaining the benches and, alternatively, WHBC would make savings as the council would no longer be obliged to refurbish or replace unused/surplus benches.”

At a cabinet meeting last Tuesday, members unanimously agreed to bring in the new charges.

However, they suggested that plaques should only be retained by the council for two years, rather than 10, if the original bench buyers could not be contacted after 10 years.

A council spokeswoman said: “The cost will be applied retrospectively but only when a bench gets to end of life.”

And she added: “It will apply to all memorial benches. An audit of benches is currently being carried out.”

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