HUNGERFORD’S Tragedy Gardens lack a sense of reverence and could do with a revamp, town councillors have decided.
There are plans to move the plaque from its current position and to invite relatives of victims and survivors, along with Ron Tarry – who was mayor at the time of the incident – to an unveiling ceremony.
However, councillors acknowledged the huge sensitivity surrounding the issue amid fears of inviting unwelcome national media attention ahead of the 30th anniversary next year.
Town mayor Martin Crane, at a recent, full meeting of the town council, told members: “I was shocked to see the state of the gardens when I went there and I also think the positioning of the plaque could be improved, as suggested by [town councillor] David Small, if it was moved to a vacant pillar on the memorial avenue.”
He revealed he had been in touch with relatives of the families of the bereaved and injured and said most had been in favour of the proposals.
Mr Crane added: “I’ve spoken to [former mayor] Jack Williams and to Ron Tarry and both would be happy for the plaque to be moved to the new site.
“The memorial avenue is a much better site, away from where kids play football.
“I know the town will always remember the tragedy but this does need a bit of reverence, I think.”
Helen Simpson agreed: “The plaque shouldn’t be at its current site. It would be better if it mirrored the war memorial plaque on the other pillar.”
“And the area is used by kids kicking balls or cans around. When I visited recently I spent 10 minutes just picking up litter.
“Some relatives tell me they don’t go there to remember lost loved ones because it’s just not suitable.”
Hungerford Town Council is responsible for maintaining the Bulpit Lane memorial.
In 2012, the Berkshire Gardens Trust, at the behest of the mayoral incumbent that year, Elizabeth Cardwell, arranged for the area to be revamped with new fencing, painting, turfing and planting.
Town clerk Claire Barnes said: “We should give that replanting time to get established.”
Paul Whiting, whose family was directly affected by the tragedy, said: “While this is important to the town and to relatives it should be done quietly – we don’t want the 30th anniversary drawing attention again.”
The council voted to reposition the plaque in consultation with relatives and to invite them to an unveiling ceremony, conducted by Mr Tarry.