Oil & Gas

Piper Alpha memorial garden: £35,000 for new roses but no major changes as revamp talks continue

No major changes are to be made in the Piper Alpha memorial garden ahead of the 35th anniversary of the disaster.

A row broke out last year over the future of the space in Hazlehead Park, with city officials working to “broker” a way forward.

In the meantime, flower beds are to be given new life and colour ahead of the milestone anniversary of the world’s deadliest offshore disaster.

The entrance will also be given a tidy up before commemoration services on July 6.

Piper Alpha memorial and North Sea memorial rose garden: Public consultation on future overhaul

And the public are to be given a say on the longer term future of the memorial and gardens.

It comes after charity Pound For Piper put forward plans for a major overhaul of the peaceful spot in the west of the city.

© Supplied by DC Thomson/ Colin Re
The Piper Alpha monument in Aberdeen

But survivors and the families of some of the 167 killed in the offshore tragedy objected to the change.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has been brought into the dispute, being asked to grant the rose garden special heritage status to prevent any changes.

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“Summer 2024” is the only guidance the council has been given on when the quango might make a ruling.

Petitioners holding out on talks until HES ruling on garden’s special status

Meanwhile, council bosses have been trying to bring petitioners together with Pound For Piper, which raises funding to help maintain the gardens.

© Supplied by Pound for Piper Memo
Pound for Piper’s plans for the Piper Alpha memorial and North Sea memorial garden. Image: Pound For Piper Memorial Trust.

Chief operations officer Mark Reilly said: “We expect a decision on the designation in the summer, after which we will be able to move forward on discussions of what we can do with the gardens.

“It is very difficult to put a timeframe on whether we can get alignment and agreement between all parties.

“A number of petitioners live outwith the city and they are not willing to engage until HES makes a decision.

“I am hoping they will engage once that decision is made and we can move this forward.”

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Pound For Piper offers £35,000 to have garden looking their best for memorial service

On top of the fury over the longer term vision for the Piper Alpha memorial and North Sea memorial gardens, a more immediate row emerged last summer.

SNP and Liberal Democrat councillors refused Labour pleas to provide thousands to refresh and tidy up the gardens ahead of the anniversary on July 6.

A service is to be held around the memorial sculpture, which bears the names of all 167 men who died, on the day.

‘No plans to intentionally rebrand or rename’ Piper Alpha gardens

While city refused the £16,000 cost of the refresh, Pound For Piper has put up £35,000 to have the rose garden looking its best ahead of the gathering.

The layout of the gardens won’t change but rosebeds will be replenished and hedges will be trimmed to make the gardens “presentable.”

SNP communities vice-convener Ciaran McRae said: “The memorial and gardens are of huge significance to everyone affected by the Piper Alpha disaster.

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“It is important that the gardens remain maintained to a high standard and that we consult with survivors and families of those who lost their lives in the next steps.”

‘I know exactly where I was’: Piper Alpha memorial garden future to be put to all councillors

And it is an issue of such significance that all councillors are to be given a say.

The final decision on the council’s involvement in the future of the gardens – a “hopeful brokering” job according to customer services director Andy Macdonald – will go to a full council meeting.

Independent Hazlehead councillor Jennifer Stewart said: “This is such a big issue affecting the whole city and many people will feel very strongly.

“I know exactly where I was when it happened. My son was nine months old and husband was offshore. Many will be the same.

“It’s very generous for people to money to a good cause and any enhancements of the rose garden I am sure will be welcomed by everyone, [now it is clear] no changes are being made.”

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