Coronavirus pandemic memorials approved for locations across South Tyneside as world approaches third anniversary of first Covid-19 infection
Plans for public memorials recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on South Tyneside have been given the green light by development chiefs.
Earlier this year, South Tyneside Council submitted applications to its own planning department for a series of “Covid memorial statues” in towns and villages across the borough.
South Tyneside Council plans to unveil the granite memorials next year as part of wider plans to award the Freedom of the Borough, the highest honour the council can bestow, to NHS staff, carers and key workers.
However, the scheme also attracted complaints, ranging from the proposed memorial designs, to concerns over the costs involved.
Public comments on the Cleadon, Hebburn and Jarrow applications suggested people did not want to be “reminded” of the Covid-19 pandemic, while one Cleadon comment criticised the memorial design for “looking like a gravestone”.
A single consultation comment in South Shields also said the proposed memorial had “sharp edges” and “presented a particular risk to adults and children”.
But despite this, the local authority’s planning department approved all six applications at the end of November - a decision praised by council leader Tracey Dixon.
Cllr Dixon said: “The coronavirus pandemic affected us all in some way.
“It saw our communities come together to provide much needed support and comfort to the many people suffering loss and help through such difficult and dark times.
“Back in 2020 we said we wanted to create a meaningful and lasting memorial to all those local people who sadly lost their lives to Covid.
“It’s great to see the scheme progressing. Planning permission means we are one step closer to providing a special place and focal point in our communities for families and friends to reflect and remember.
“We also said we would involve local people in the process. Community events are still taking place with our partners at The Cultural Spring to help develop the inscription for each of the memorials”.
Six locations were proposed for the Covid memorials, including:
*South Marine Park, in South Shields
*West Park, in Jarrow
*Carr Ellison Park, in Hebburn
*Cornthwaite Park, in Whitburn
South Tyneside Council has confirmed the memorials are expected to be unveiled in Spring 2023.