Harlington parish council tells man to remove wife's tribute

Published
image copyrightKay Ratcliffe
image captionAndy Bishop was told he must remove her name or the council would charge him for the work

A parish council has told a grieving husband to remove a tribute to his wife from a village notice board because it is in breach of planning permission.

Harlington Parish Council told Andy Bishop the memorial to Andra, who was the council's chairman, did not meet the "agreed specifications".

Mr Bishop, who paid for the board, was told he must remove her name or the council would charge him for the work.

He scraped off the dedication on Wednesday.

"I'm saddened, it's almost like a bit of a witch-hunt," he said.

"Why can't you celebrate the good that people do in the village? Most villagers would give their eye teeth to have people like that and they would celebrate them."

Permission was 'specific'

Mr Bishop's wife, who died from cancer two years ago, had maintained the notice board in the Bedfordshire village for years.

The council wanted it removed but agreed her husband could pay for a new board on the same site with a header reading "Voice of the Village".

Mr Bishop, who maintains the board, also included the words "in memory of Andra Bishop".

image copyrightAndy Bishop
image captionMr Bishop included "in memory of Andra Bishop" on the board

In an email from the council, Mr Bishop was told the sign was "in breach of the specifications" and the authority could "make the required repair and invoice [him]", or he could do the work himself.

Council clerk Stewart Wilks said if he had asked for a memorial inscription it would have been discussed but "no request was received" and the specification was "both specific and more importantly, agreed in advance".

"I feel for Andy and his friends who are upset and I am equally aware of the village residents who feel that the unplanned/unauthorised erection of memorials or monuments could set an unwanted precedent," he said.

Parish councillor John Harfield said he was surprised the issue had not been discussed at the committee before the email was sent.

"What harm is done by having a dedication? It's really important we have community cohesion, and I really don't want the village to be divided," he said.

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