Questions are being asked as to how a series of engraved floor tiles cemented to a sea wall within a Conservation Area could have received approval from the Isle of Wight council.
Since 2015 residents have been invited by the ‘Sandown Honour Trail Association’ to pay £55 to have an engraved tile placed on the wall.
A leaflet for the scheme explains:
However, concerns have been raised over the addition of shrine tokens, including flowers, photos and painted stones along the wall.
“On the whole the impression is morbid and maudlin”
One resident told News OnTheWight,
“Whilst some have an amusing theme such as weeing in the sea, or being a geezer – on the whole the impression is morbid, maudlin and at odds with Sandown as a tourism destination where people go to relax, forget their worries.”
They suggested that perhaps the Trail could be re-sited to a park, such as Los Altos, and a memorial garden created where people could remember their loved ones in a quieter, less public way.
The Isle of Wight council say style of tile was agreed and they are aware that they are engraved by a local experienced engraver and are installed by local contractors.
However, Ms Perera says it was not the intended desire for any form of memorialisation to be part of the Trail and she stressed that this is included in the Terms of Reference.
News OnTheWight has written to the Honour Trail Association and asked what actions will be taken to ensure the Terms of Reference are adhered to.
Where are the profits going?
The leaflet explains that profits will be donated to local charities, but several Sandown residents, as well as News OnTheWight, have been unable to get questions answered from those administering the scheme as to where this money is going and who is controlling it.
Background of the Honour Trail
Wendy Perera, the Isle of Wight council’s deputy Chief Executive, explains how the Honour Trail came about.
“This original idea for the Honour Trail originated in 2013 as a result of the then twinning of Sandown Town Council (STC) with St. Pete’s Beach in Florida under the Sister City programme. St Bede’s had set up a Honour trail on their seafront, which was extremely popular.
“At that time Sandown Community Partnership (the working arm of Sandown Town Council) undertook to scope the possibility of establishing the same for Sandown. This was eventually arranged, in consultation with both the Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads. When Sandown Community Partnership ceased the administration of the trail was taken over by Sandown Town Council.”
However, despite what the Deputy Chief Executive says, Sandown Town Council say they have nothing to do with the Honour Trail.
Questions to the Honour Trail Committee
Cllr Gary Young was Chair of the Committee up until the end of last year and Cllrs Merriweather and Cowley, plus one other, are thought to still remain on the Committee.
At the end of last year News OnTheWight wrote to the Honour Trail, but sadly they chose not to reply.
- Please could you confirm the name of all those involved in the Sandown Honour Trail Association
- Have any annual accounts been produced?
- If so, please point us in the right direction (we haven’t been able to find any)
- When was your last annual meeting held?
- How much profit has been donated to charity?
- Which charities have benefited and by how much?
- When was permission sought from IWC to place the tiles on the seawall?
- Please name the officer who approved the application
- What is the VAT number?
- Your leaflet says messages on the tiles should avoid lifespans or ‘in memory of’ but some on the wall do have those – who checks the messages before they are sent for engraving?
One resident told News OnTheWight today that town clerk, Richard Priest, had recently said to them that another 50 tiles were about to be installed.
44 questions to the IWC
Members of Sandown Hub Facebook Group have put 44 questions to the Isle of Wight council about the Honour Trail and its impact on the street scene. The questions were put to the John Metcalfe the council’s Chief Executive, as well as to Ms Perera and Chris Ashman, Director of Regeneration.
The questions were:
- Are children allowed to walk along the sea wall on the Sandown Honour Trail?
- Is it permitted to place tokens such as photos, and to secure bunches of memorial flowers to the railing on the sea wall?
- Is it ok for people who have tiles on the wall to drag children off by the ears if they walk on the tiles?
- Are these tiles allowed to be a memorial?
- Is it disrespectful for children to walk upon the Honour trail tiles as they have walked on this wall since the day it was constructed?
- Is it correct that this trail was never meant to be a graveyard but a celebration of our town?
- Is it intended that the tiles are added to until the sea wall is full up?
- Is it appropriate place to allow flowers to be laid?
- Is a fun seaside esplanade the place for these memorials?
- Is there a law that says that children can’t walk over them?
- What happens when the tiles become damaged?
- Will they be replaced if damaged and who pays?
- Is the Sandown sea wall a suitable place for memorial tiles?
- Who would be held responsible if a child slipped on the tiles and injured themselves?
- Does the Honour Trail committee have public liability insurance?
- Why are the tiles not on the vertical /upright part of the wall?
- Who decided that this was an appropriate place for a memorial trail?
- Who are the secretive Honour Trail Association? The Mayor of Sandown has refused to reveal who they are.
- Who is scrutinising their accounts?
- Why have accounts never been published?
- Whatever happened to transparency in public office. Sandown Town Council Website states who doesn’t administer this scheme, but not who does.
- Why have accounts never been published, what have they got to hide?
- Who lives at 22 Station Avenue? As this is the registered address for the Sandown Honour Trail.
- Is it right that the Mayor should state that “it is a private concern nothing to do with the public”?
- Where do we find these apparently oh-so-conceited individuals who feel they should do as they please and be answerable to no one?
- Is Councillor Connie Cowley one of the Committee?
- Please confirm that the following statement in a recent email from the Honour Trail Team is correct:“Please note that the Honour Trail is an independent body and has no connection with the town council.”
- So how did this private concern get permission to use the sea wall and where does the money go?
- Is it not rather selfish to turn a public place into a personal memorial?
- Who is responsible for removing flowers placed as a memorial, or pictures drawn by children, littering the sea wall? Are members of the public permitted to remove them?
- Does the project need a rethink before more tiles are stuck to the sea wall?
- Was it a massive error of judgement to place these floor tiles upon a heritage asset?
- Please could you confirm Richard Priest, Sandown Town Council Town Clerk’s comment to a member of the public that another 50 are going up “it’s a done deal”.
- How was this permitted in the Sandown Conservation Area?
- Why are we allowing many of these tiles to become shrines which is uncomfortable and maudlin?
- If accounts have not been published or transparency for the charity donations not been made public is this not a reason for the Isle of Wight Council to withdraw permission to site the memorial tiles?
- Where is the money going?
- Once the Honour Trail Committee is disbanded, members passed away and forgotten, who is responsible for repairing or replacing tiles which over time have broken or fallen off?
- The Honour Trail is a “private concern” in their own words, “nothing to do with Sandown Town Council.” How could this have happened?
- How does an anonymous, random group of people with no connection to Sandown Town Council gain free of charge access to run an enterprise on an Isle of Wight Council heritage asset?
- How can this Honour Trail be operated by a secret committee outside the jurisdiction of Isle of Wight Council or Sandown Town Council?
- Why be so secretive about something so publicly displayed? The least the public deserves is transparency in the entire project.
- How is that cheap interior floor tiles have been allowed to be stuck onto an important heritage asset in Sandown Conservation Area?
- Is a line of gravestones on the sea wall compatible with the Shaping the Bay initiative?
News OnTheWight will update readers once answers have been provided.
Images: © Colin Midmore