People urged to plant a tree to remember their loved ones as traditional memorial benches are now too costly

It is hoped the move will lead to more tree planting in the town
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Memorial benches to remember loved ones by are to be scrapped in Blackpool - with people urged to plant a tree instead as a lasting tribute to someone who has died.

Residents will be charged £400 for a Celebration Tree which would be planted in one of the town's parks, although new areas of woodland could also be created.

Memorial trees could be planted in Stanley ParkMemorial trees could be planted in Stanley Park
Memorial trees could be planted in Stanley Park
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By contrast a memorial bench costs nearly £2,000 including the cost of its installation. There  are currently about 200 benches in Stanley Park, with some in other parks, which the council maintains.

But space for benches is running out and the council says it cannot continue to cover the costs of maintaining them. People could also choose a Celebration Tree to mark an important event such as a wedding or special anniversary.

The council says it will continue to maintain existing memorial benches but is changing the service to offer Celebration Trees in partnership with Trees for Streets which already works with 17 councils around the country.

The council says the new service, which will come into effect at the end of March, will help boost tree planting in Blackpool and save money by reducing the cost of repairing benches.

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A report says maintenance costs  "can be considerable" and there is also  "limited space available across Blackpool parks to continue installing benches in line with demand". There will be a dedicated website offered by Trees for Streets which will work with residents wanting to create a memorial to their loved one.

The report adds: "The success of these partnerships elsewhere has resulted in an increase in the quantity of trees planted and provided another route for the community to take part in improving the environment for the benefit of the future.

"Several locations in Blackpool, have already been identified where remembrance woods can be created, which would inherently become quieter, reflective places.There will also be planting locations for individual trees which will complement existing parks features. "

The cost for a Celebration Tree will be £400 compared to the current cost of £1,500 for a bench and £600 for the installation. The trees would be planted by the council's parks department as part of its regular planing season, and would be maintained by council staff.

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