Call for clarity over memorials

Roadside memorial flowers to Ian Sudworth at Marsh Green/Sccot Lane junction
Roadside memorial flowers to Ian Sudworth at Marsh Green/Sccot Lane junction

A WIGAN motorists’ group is calling for the clarification of rules on roadside memorials.

Like other local authorities across Greater Manchester, in June 2008 Wigan Council ruled that memorials left at the side of roads should be removed after 30 days.

But the council today confirmed that it has no resources in place to remove memorials and that it is often done by the police.

However, A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said that the removal of roadside memorials is nothing to do with them and is the responsibility of the council.

As a result memorials are often left to deteriorate and cause a hazard to motorists.

Gary Whittaker, of Wigan Advanced Motorists, said: “There needs to be better clarity over this because nobody is sure who is responsible for removing memorials and it doesn’t seem that the rules to remove them after 30 days are followed. Although these memorials can cause a distraction they can also often highlight an accident blackspot.

“But when they are left for months and the flowers go brown and die they can become quite an eyesore.

“There is also the concern with the large roadside memorial outside the BP garage at Scot Lane, Marsh Green, that this could cause an obstruction to the views of motorists using the junction.”

The memorial has been in situ for two months since the murder of Ian Sudworth on November 19 last year. Because of the nature of Mr Sudworth’s death, many bunches of flowers were placed at the scene, but months on they have been left to deteriorate.

Wigan Council said: “We don’t resource specifically by going out 30 days afterwards (to remove memorials). But the recommendation from Greater Manchester is that this is the acceptable minimum, and we will remove memorials at respectful times following this as officers visit areas for their normal duties.”

A report to Wigan Council’s environmental panel in 2008 acknowledged that roadside memorials can cause a hazard. It said: “The practice of laying floral tributes and memorials at the site of a fatal road collision has become more common.

“Sometimes these can become elaborate, a distraction, a road safety hazard and occasionally a health and safety issue.

“Tributes should remain at the location for a period of no more than 30 days from the date of the fatality. The Highway Authority should arrange for collection and disposal after this period. The local authority, through the relevant family liaison officer, should contact the family in advance of the removal of the floral tributes or memorials.”