BY CALUM FRASER
A distraught mum has slammed town hall chiefs for removing a bench dedicated to her father.
Catherine Erskine, 54, had a memorial bench placed in Honor Oak Crematorium after her father, Gerald Erskine, died 14 years ago.
She was horrified when her daughter, Carly Erskine, who visits the bench regularly, called up to say it had been removed and a note was left in its place.
Catherine, of Buckthorne Road, Crofton Park, said: “The council doesn’t realise the absolute heartache they have put us through.
“I don’t ever want to step foot in that crematorium again, they have ruined everything I had associated with the place.”
The notice left by Southwark council, which manages the crematorium, said that any benches “that are considered dangerous will be removed immediately and disposed of.”
A council spokeswoman claimed the authority put up a notice in August warning the family that the bench was going to be removed.
But Catherine believes this is not the case, as several family members had visited between then and Monday, October 8, when the bench was removed, and had not seen a notice.
Catherine, who has two brothers and a sister, said: “If I had seen that notice, I would have carried that bench on my back and put it in my garden.
“And how can they say it was dangerous? There’s no cracks or anything in the wood. We spent £800 on this and got the best wood and engraved it with a message from us all.
“Dad was an amazing person. Mum passed away when I was five and dad brought us all up. “He was my best friend as well as my dad. I was 40 when he died, but I felt like an orphaned child.
“The bench was such a peaceful place with dad’s ashes by a willow tree opposite.”
Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for environment, transport management and air quality, said: “We are very sorry for Catherine and her family’s distress.
“Work is ongoing to improve Honor Oak Crematorium and create new burial and memorial space for the future, including a new, dedicated peace garden for babies and children’s memorials as well as creating a more pleasant, peaceful and well-maintained site for families.
We are very aware that this work can have an impact on people who visit the memorials of loved ones in this part of the crematorium and we ensured notices advising of the changes and how to contact us about them were in the area from April this year.
“As we didn’t have contact details for the family, a further notice was placed on Cathy’s bench in August.”
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