Aberdeen City Council has made clear it will have the final say over any proposed changes to memorial gardens in Aberdeen, as it consults with survivors and families affected by the Piper Alpha disaster.
Following a meeting on Wednesday, Council staff agreed to meet with all relevant parties, including trade union representatives, over plans to redesign the North Sea Memorial Gardens in Hazlehead Park, which includes the famous Piper Alpha monument at its heart.
It was also agreed that as part of the formal process, any proposed changes to the gardens would be subject to consultation, and all planning approvals and any final decision on the future of the memorial and the gardens would be made by the Council.
Under its proposals, a larger area would be created around the famous monument, allowing for a 360-degree view and improved access.
Seating would also be upgraded, and more than a dozen benches would be added, as well as information boards detailing the history and legacy of Piper Alpha and the work of the trust.
The Trust hopes the redesign will support the future of the gardens and reflect its long-term purpose to ensure that the monument and gardens are maintained to a high standard for years to come.
However, public engagement around the plans prompted a number of comments, both for and against.
Some raised concerns over a lack of consultation with families affected by the tragedy, and on 6 June a petition with more than 5,000 signatures titled ‘Stop the redesign and renaming of the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden’ was received by the City Council.
A report submitted to the Council noted that the Piper Alpha Memorial and the North Sea Memorial Rose Garden are of “huge significance” to those affected by the Piper Alpha disaster, and to the people of Aberdeen.
It added that the Council “recognises the importance of fully consulting on any proposal to ensure all voices are heard, as part of any decision-making process.”
During a meeting with the Trust on Wednesday, the Council unanimously agreed to meeting with representatives and families to consult on the plans.
The results will be reported back to delivery committee in August 2022, along with a cost estimate and funding options for the planting of the rose beds as an interim measure.
The report made clear that there has been “no discussion” between the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust and Aberdeen City Council on “rebranding or renaming” the memorial or the gardens, and “no final decision” has been made on the garden redesign.
Pound for Piper Trust Chairman, Steve Rae, confirmed that the Trust looks forward to having the opportunity to meet with the Council to discuss the proposed re-design project.
Mr Rae said he was delighted that the Council recognises, as the Trust always has, the need for consultation to involve all stakeholder groups.
Last week marked the 34th anniversary of the 1988 North Sea disaster which claimed the lives of 167 people.
The event was marked with a service at the Memorial Gardens, attended by around 70 people and led by oil and gas chaplain Reverend Gordon Craig.