Livewire - October 11, 2013

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By Jacqui Morley

Roadside memorials are a poignant reminder of a life lost in tragic circumstances.

Flowers, ribbons, windmills, toys: some have been there so long many of us no longer notice memories of a life frozen in time at the spot where it was lost.

Most councils broadly tolerate roadside tributes so long as they are not intrusive, distracting or constitute a hazard.

But more are moving towards shorter term tributes in place for no longer than 12 weeks. The issue has hit the headlines in recent days nationally - but has yet to be debated in Blackpool.

Lancashire County Council takes a pragmatic stance - stating that while it is not normally appropriate to place permanent memorials in the highway officers work with families to find an “appropriate and proportionate form of lasting memorial using our discretion.”

Belinda Hayes, 56, of Bispham, who returned to England after losing her husband in a car crash in Spain, says: “I can’t understand wanting a permanent reminder of your loss on the spot where it happened. You carry the loss in your heart forever. The Spanish are big on roadside shrines on accident blackspots. I’m not. I find them distracting and distressing. We moved to the Costa Blanca six years ago when my husband retired. When he died I moved back to England to avoid using or passing that road daily. ”

Samantha James, 41, a nurse from Colwyn Bay, says roadside tributes help families grieve. “I’ve done bereavement counselling and not just to victim of road traffic accidents. You find families want a focus for their grief and that’s often where the tragedy occurred. It’s why so many now place flowers where someone has been murdered or fallen. It becomes a pilgrimage point. But you also find that a memorial has a limited life span. People don’t forget but they do move on. I’d always give them time and space.”

Sunday November 17 marks World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. For more information visit www.roadpeace.org .