STARK CONTRAST: Locally crafted, but technically illegal, chairs compared to a dilapidated chair on the opposite side of the new viewing platform at Sandy Beach.
STARK CONTRAST: Locally crafted, but technically illegal, chairs compared to a dilapidated chair on the opposite side of the new viewing platform at Sandy Beach.

Photos highlight irony of the seaside seat debate

AS a number of unauthorised memorial seats face an uncertain future contrasting photos have highlighted the irony of regulations surrounding the vexed issue.

They show a dilapidated seat on one side of the new Sandy Beach viewing platform and several hand crafted stools on the other side which are much-loved by the community but facing possible removal.

When the Sandy Beach Action Group (SANDBAG) was informed by Coffs Harbour City Council that the handcrafted stools would be removed, president Peter Quidington decided to take the photos.

"The seats in question were both safer and more attractive than some of the existing facilities provided by council, that were poorly maintained and something of an eyesore - well beyond their use-by-date."

He says the group has a good working relationship with council in progressing the master plan for the area.

"We appreciate council needs to have consistent policies in regards to items being placed on reserve land, however, at some point common sense needs to prevail, otherwise productive working relations between the council and community groups will break down."

The stools were made by Cameron East who is also responsible for the large 'love seat' at Emerald Beach that has gained much social media attention and is also facing an uncertain future.

 

IN LIMBO: This memorial seat at Emerald Beach was facing relocation or removal.
IN LIMBO: This memorial seat at Emerald Beach was facing relocation or removal.

Created as a tribute to a lost mate the seat includes the words: Big Tutt, the dad I never had, the mate I'll never forget.

Related: Readers say removing memorial is 'not the answer'

The seats are located in the Coffs Coast Regional Park, which is managed by a Trust Board, council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The Regional Park has previously adopted the NPWS memorials in parks policy on the placing of personal memorials which states that written consent must be given for a memorial to be installed in the area. It also aims to encourage alternatives to permanent memorials in areas of natural beauty.

A council representative has indicated the possibility of a compromise in relation to the seats in question at Sandy and Emerald.

"Both the seat at Emerald and the seats in Sandy Beach are still in situ," a council spokesperson said.

"Council and NPWS officers, who provide advice and assistance to the Coffs Coast Regional Park Trust Board, are currently working with the maker of the seats and the communities involved with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution."

Deputy Mayor Tegan Swan hopes a compromise can be reached which could include covering up the wording or relocation.

"Somebody mentioned this to me the other day and I hadn't really thought about it that way but you don't want to go to the beach and be reminded of death - it does make sense, I can understand that.

"If the words that show it's clearly a memorial can be removed than that could be part of the compromise."