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‘Persistent’ grass blamed after bench honouring fallen Elm Park soldier completely covered by weeds

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:00 19 August 2016

Left, Ian Fisher's sons on the portrait bench. Right, the bench last week, hidden by weeds.

Left, Ian Fisher's sons on the portrait bench. Right, the bench last week, hidden by weeds.

Helen Fisher

The “persistent growth” of plants has been blamed after a bench honouring the achievement of a soldier who died serving his country became completely hidden by tall weeds.

Havering and Barking and Dagenham councils installed a portrait bench, which features a sculpture of Elm Park warrant officer Ian Fisher, in Beam Valley Country Park, Dagenham, in October last year.

But when Helen Fisher, Ian’s mum, went to visit the bench with her husband and daughter, she was shocked by what she saw.

“The bench was completely smothered in weeds – it was an absolute horror,” she told the Recorder.

“If you didn’t already know about the bench, then you wouldn’t even know it was there behind the weeds.

“What was the point in making a big deal of installing the bench if they weren’t going to take care of it?

Dad-of-two Ian was killed in 2013 while serving in Afghanistan.

“It is heartbreaking that it has been left to deteriorate and treated with such disrespect,” said Helen.

The bench, which also features folk singer Billy Bragg and Ford sewing machinists, was installed by charity Sustrans, which delivered the GLA-funded project as part of a country-wide initiative.

As the bench is in Beam Valley Country Park, the responsibility for maintaining it falls under Barking and Dagenham Council.

A council spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to Mrs Fisher for any distress caused. We are now in the process of ensuring the area is tidy and accessible to all.

“Furthermore, the recent weather we have experienced has caused an increase of persistent growth in grass and plant life across the borough.”

The bordering councils also installed a walking and cycling path over the River Beam, bridging Breton’s Outdoor Centre in Rainham and Beam Valley.

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