Aberdeen councillors have clashed over planting thousands of pounds worth of roses in the Piper Alpha memorial garden.
Elected members were asked to allocate £16,400 to keep the Hazlehead spot looking colourful after the current crop dies.
However, the plan fell victim to uncertainty about the future of the gardens when the SNP and Lib Dem council administration voted to delay any decision.
Given the ongoing furore, they said it would be best to consult with affected families first.
That came despite arguments from the Labour opposition group that such a move might risk the beauty spot becoming unsightly.
Flowers fall-out comes amid wider dispute
The peaceful spot serves as a lasting tribute to the 167 people killed in the offshore disaster.
Over the past few months, an emotional dispute has broken out about revamp plans, with the Pound for Piper Trust plotting a £500,000 makeover.
But families of the fallen oilmen were not consulted on the project, and have since protested against the changes.
The planting of the roses is a separate issue – but became ensnared in the drama yesterday.
Plea to get bulbs planted
Sandra McDonald said that, while the future may be up in the air, councillors should take money from an emergency budget to get the flowers planted as soon as possible.
The Labour leader said: “In the meantime, I am asking that we put that beautiful space back to what it was.
“What comes down the road, I do not know…
“For now, let’s have a well-tended, treasured garden.”
‘It feels like we are sitting on our hands’
Tory Richard Brooks told the meeting that “doing nothing” might not be “honouring and respectful to the families affected by the disaster”.
He said: “To do nothing feels like we are sitting on our hands.”
But the SNP argued that it would be better for the council to first “liaise with interested parties” on the future of the garden – including in that “the option of the replanting of roses”.
And Lib Dem leader Ian Yuill slammed the previous Conservative and Labour administration for failing to include the £16,400 in the council’s budget this year.
Piper Alpha garden roses ‘should always look their best’
Conservative Ryan Houghton said he was “really disappointed” by the outcome of the talks.
He said: “It’s only £16,000 to ensure that the gardens look their best while we await a decision on its future later in the year.”
However, the administration argued that there is plenty of time to come to a decision, after officers advised that planting season is over the winter.
SNP leader opens up on links to North Sea tragedy
SNP council leader Alex Nicoll led the calls to hold off – saying it was a “subject close to his heart”.
The former police officer was part of the Piper Alpha investigation in the late 80s, explaining that part of his duties were “recovery and identification of victims”.
He added: “At the end of the day, this is the final resting place of the men who died that night. We need to clarify what all parties would like and come to a consensus.
“It’s the right thing to do.
“I am hopeful we will see something come back to us within the planting season, but there might be another option the families prefer.”
The committee voted 7-6 to delay the decision.
You can watch the meeting here.