Crash memorial shame

Joanne Greenwood and Jodie Webb
Joanne Greenwood and Jodie Webb

Pledges have been made to improve a “pitiful” memorial to two young pals killed in a car crash.

Jodie Webb and Joanne Greenwood were heading back to Manchester after a night out in Wigan where they had been celebrating Jodie’s 21st birthday when the car in which they were travelling swerved out of control and crashed into a wall.

The sad-looking tree on Bolton Road

The sad-looking tree on Bolton Road

It later emerged that the driver, John Hassell, had been drinking, and driving without insurance, on the night of the smash on Bolton Road, Aspull, in August 2000.

He was subsequently convicted of causing the deaths of Jodie and Joanne by dangerous driving, jailed for five years and banned from driving for 10 years.

After the tragedy Jodie’s mum June called for a lasting memorial to the girls and as a result, Wigan Council agreed that a marble plaque and a mountain ash tree could be sited on Aspull Common, close to where the young women lost their lives, while Mrs Webb’s solicitors - Leigh, Day and Company - agreed to meet the costs.

But years on and the tree is broken and looks dead and even some of the wording on the memorial is fading. A burst balloon and a soiled remembrance card attached to the budless and leafless thin trunk only add to the sorry state.

One Bolton Road resident who did not wish to be named said: “It really does make pitiful viewing. The elements may well have taken their toll in what is a quite exposed spot but that tree, after all these years, should be flourishing and much bigger now. If it is still alive - and I doubt it - then it is no bigger than it was when it was planted 15 years ago.

“I would hate to think that anyone had vandalised it. Some of the inscription on the plaque is wearing away too.”

Local councillor John Hilton said: “Now that this has been brought to my attention I am going to go and have a look at it.

“If the tree is beyond repair then the local councillors will find some Brighter Borough Fund money to pay for and plant a replacement. Maybe some work will also need to be done on the plaque. We cannot allow such an important memorial be neglected like that.”

The double fatality also led to calls from locals to introduce measures that would slow down motorists.