Disgusted mums told park is not a memorial for late sons

THEY were promised a playpark so their memories of horror would fade amidst laughter and joy - but today all they've been left with is a bench.

Earlier this month, the Evening News told how the parents of tragic Blair Easton, 11, and Craig Quinn, 12, were turned away from a playpark supposedly erected in the boys' memory when it was locked up for the exclusive use of residents of the plush new estate on the site of the warehouse where the children perished in flames in 1998.

Now, disgusted mothers Donna Hume and Catherine Craig have been told that the park that they fought to see built - and even helped pick the outdoor play equipment for - was never intended to commemorate their boys at all.

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Midlothian Council claims the only memorial it agreed with Applecross Homes, the now liquidated developers of the Eskbridge estate in Penicuik, was a solitary park bench.

The claim flies in the face of more than a decade of promises made to the families, friends, teachers and former schoolmates at Eastfield Primary School, who were closely consulted on the plans and all agreed that a playpark would be a fitting memorial.

Mrs Hume, who is divorced from Blair's father Derek Easton and now lives in Tranent, said: "If it's not the boys' playpark then why were we asked to choose the things that we would like to see in the park?

"The council doesn't seem to care any more. They were full of promises at the time but all we've been left with is lies."

The boys died in a fire which ripped through the former Borders Concrete warehouse in March 1998.

People visiting the memorial are now met with a grey metal fence built around the playpark, and the only publicly accessible area is a green bench on the edge of the park bearing the boys' names.

A Midlothian Council spokesperson said: "As a condition of the planning permission, details of the proposed memorial were submitted by Applecross and approved by the council.

"These details specified a circular metal bench, with a tree planted in the centre. The memorial was also to include a plaque, the wording of which was agreed by the families and by the school. The memorial was constructed in accordance with these details."

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However, Midlothian Provost Adam Montgomery, who supported the idea of a memorial park, has challenged his council's official claim and pledged to see the "Residents Only" signs torn down. He said: "I understood that the playpark was the memorial agreed by the parents and the school, and that the bench with the plaques would form just one part of that memorial. I'm going to get to the bottom of it."

It is understood that the fence was erected by Eskbridge factors Charles White Limited following complaints about vandalism. Charles White property manager Sarah Wilson refused to comment.