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Hampstead Heath memorial benches at risk under new proposals

PUBLISHED: 08:53 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:02 11 January 2018

A bench overlooking Hampstead Heath's number 1 pond

A bench overlooking Hampstead Heath's number 1 pond

Archant

The City of London Corporation are calling for plaque sponsors to come forward, as benches are deteriorating and the waiting list grows

Memorial plaques could be stripped off Hampstead Heath benches under new plans currently being drawn up by the City of London Corporation.

The proposal is in response to a lack of room for new memorials. Heath bosses believe removing plaques sponsored by people they are no longer in touch with would free up space for new benches.

The waiting list for new benches is currently closed, while they are drawing up the new policy. Currently there are 61 names on the waiting list.

The corporation is also concerned about the condition of some of the older benches.

The proposals are set to go to two Hampstead Heath committees in the next two months.

The corporation, which manages the Heath, is currently trying to contact the relatives those who have benches dedicated to them.

Since 1996, all of the sponsored benches on the Heath are agreed for a maximum of ten years. They can then be extended for a further decade after that.

Heath bosses have defended the proposed policy, and say they are making every effort to contact existing bench sponsors.

They are contacting them by phone, by writing to them, and have posted messages on social media urging people to get in touch.

They also plan to leave public notices on benches that were sponsored before 1996, for up to a year, to try to inform people who may visit particular benches on certain anniversaries throughout the year.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation, which manages Hampstead Heath, said: “We want to provide families on the waiting list with opportunities to sponsor if older benches come to the end of their 10-year sponsorship or serviceable lifespan.

“The waiting list for benches is currently closed while we decide on a new policy. “

He said that decisions on the policy will be made at the Hampstead Heath Management Committee in February.

“Every effort will be made to respect the wishes of the original sponsors,” he added.

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