'Disgraceful and disrespectful' Readers fume after memorial benches set on fire by Edinburgh Council

Edinburgh Evening News readers reacted in fury after the paper revealed that memorial benches had been set on fire by Edinburgh council depot workers to 'save money' in manager's budget

Removed from West Princes Street Gardens with some memorialising Victoria Cross holders according to one council source, the benches sat at the councils Inch Depot for more than a year before being set alight. Picture: EEN

Photos passed to the Evening News reveal the shocking actions from council workers who have taken to burning damaged memorial benches intended to commemorate lost loved-ones.

Removed from West Princes Street Gardens with some memorialising Victoria Cross holders according to one council source, the benches sat at the council’s Inch Depot for more than a year before being set alight.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hundreds of readers took to social media to share their views.

On Facebook, Karina Emslie wrote: "They could at least give the bench back to the families to restore or keep."

Angela Dudley also vented, writing: "Disgraceful and disrespectful. I hope that new seating will be provided as it’s a green space for the people of Edinburgh to enjoy. It’s a great place to go to sit and read to have a picnic. The plaques should be returned to families with a sincere apology."

Maggie Taylor posted: Absolutely disgusting ... someone should be dismissed for allowing this to happen... Council get a grip it’s so distressing for the families who have paid a tribute to family to be destroyed.. you should be ashamed of yourselves."

Leith Links Community Council posted: "There may be community groups such as the Edinburgh Tool Library, Men in Sheds etc. who would be willing and able to repair such benches and/ or repair-use the wood. Please Edinburgh City Council, think about linking with your communities."

Andrew Patrick Shaw added: "In Edinburgh we fail to look after the living, not much chance we gonna properly respect the memory of the deceased."

Edinburgh Council have described the actions as “unacceptable” and have launched an investigation into the incident.

Some readers were slightly more sympathetic, Steven Crawford wrote: "They followed the usual protocol to contact the doners of the benches that were damaged and needed repaired. If, after a year, and out with the council's responsibility of 20 year upkeep, they haven't been able to contact the owners, they are to dispose of them. Standard policy that had been set."

A spokesman 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.”