Selsey woman 'nervous and upset' at thought of losing memorial bench dedicated to parents

Dorothy Casserley. Picture by Steve Robards. SR1832747
Dorothy Casserley. Picture by Steve Robards. SR1832747

A Selsey woman has been left ‘nervous and upset’ after she learned she could lose a memorial bench and plaque dedicated to her parents.

Selsey Town Council has recently sent out letters telling families the plaques and benches on East Beach could be sold on to other families unless they pay £600 to renew their lease.

Memorial bench in East Beach, Selsey. Picture by Steve Robards. SR1832638

Memorial bench in East Beach, Selsey. Picture by Steve Robards. SR1832638

Dorothy Casserley, 71, who bought a bench for £500 in 2007 as a memorial for her parents, said the ordeal has had a ‘major affect on her’.

She said: “It is worrying the life out of me. It would cost a lot of money to take it further, and it is money I don’t have. It is all morally wrong and unfair. I bought the bench and plaque 11 years ago, thinking I would have it forever.”

The seaside memorial was a particularly fitting tribute to Dorothy’s dad, Alfred Downs, who fought in the Second World War in the elite Special Boat Service.

She added: "It has a very personal connection and the thought of losing it makes me very emotional.

"Many people in the community are outraged about it. They [the council] say it [the ten year agreement] is there to make it fair for everyone which just isn't the case. The whole thing is ridiculous."

Responding to concerns this week that benches stood to have the plaques removed and offered to other families who had lost loved ones, the council said it held the licence for the benches and said 'everyone should get the opportunity to hold a dedication in this special location’, as part of its Memorial Bench Policy.

However, residents say that the introduction of a ‘ten year lease’ for a memorial plaque is ‘completely different’ from the agreement the plaques were purchased under.

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