Hopes remain high that £500,000 will be raised for a revamp of the memorial gardens housing the Piper Alpha monument, despite the controversy surrounding the project.
Steve Rae, chairman of the Pound for Piper Trust said there’s been a “very positive industry response” on the funding but conceded the sector is “never going to throw money at something if they don’t think it’s going to happen”.
In May, the Pound for Piper Trust proposed a £500,000 renovation to Hazlehead Park’s “North Sea Memorial Gardens”.
This was met with a petition to stop the redesign that has amassed more than 5,000 signatures, with concerns raised on rebranding and use of materials like concrete, as well as serious issues on a lack of consultation.
The Trust has said it has “no intention’ to rebrand or rename the gardens“, and the city council said yesterday that it, as the local authority, will have final say on any changes.
they talked about renaming, they talked about no consultation, they talked about using concrete products in the redesign, none of those are factual and true.
Mr Rae argued that “there is nothing controversial about what’s going on” in relation to the proposed redesign and the petition that challenges it.
Addressing the petition, he said: “Many folks had an adverse reaction to the proposal we presented to the public and we did so with full intentions of entering the consultation and getting feedback – you can’t get feedback if don’t have something to show.
“So we went in knowingly that we wouldn’t please everyone, we (also) went in knowingly that some people, many people, would be very supportive, we’d sounded that out already.”
Although many people oppose the redesign, the Trust has had “just as many positive responses”, and has replied to “everyone that has had a respectful query”
‘We’ve went about it in the right way’
Mr Rae, himself a Piper Alpha survivor, said: “I think if the petition had been raised on factual evidence it would have been much more meaningful for those who chose to raise it. and I actually would welcome the petition because I think it’s a great public document.
“I just find the topics they talked about: they talked about rebranding, they talked about renaming, they talked about no consultation, they talked about using concrete products in the redesign, none of those are factual and true.
“So the only part of the petition that I really think should be considered is the fact they objected to the redesign and I think everybody is in their right to object to the redesign if they chose to do so.”
Piper Alpha memorial gardens petition
The proposal submitted by the Pound of Piper Trust and the petition against it was discussed yesterday in a full council meeting and is “open to the public for consultation”.
The Pound for Piper chairman is “expecting no surprises, the council will expect us to do a full consultation and they will expect that to be robust, we’ve never expected anything different.”
Raising the £500K
Prior to yesterday’s council meeting, asked what Pound for Piper think the local authority’s decision will be, chairman Steve Rae said: “We’re not going to comment on that because we’re in an interesting place where we have a new council and we’re effectively having to represent to a new council and it would be naive of me to second guess what I think the council will come up with.”
If the proposal to redesign the Piper Alpha Memorial Gardens is successful the Pound for Piper Trust will have to raise £500,000 to pay for the work to be carried out.
The trust aims to appeal to oil and gas companies to help raise the money for the proposed work.
Mr Rae spoke about how confident he is that Pound for Piper could raise the money: “I think we’ve had a very positive response from the industry, I think that industry is never going to throw money at something if they don’t think it’s going to happen.
“Many of the industry leaders that I’ve presented to with the proposal have indicated that they are positive to it but I think we have to get to a place where we have done public consultation and then we can really go and say, ‘right this is maybe the change we’ve had to make for this to go forward’.
“It’s going to definitely be a proposal that is going to be acceptable to the council and those who are deemed stakeholders in this North Sea Memorial Gardens and then I think we’ll be in a place where we will receive adequate funding but we can never be confident in that until we’ve got to a place where we’ve got a design that’s – not necessarily been accepted by everyone, but it’s got to a place where the council would like that to happen to their facility because it is their facility.”