'Let dad's plaque stay': family upset at memorial's removal
THE family of a Pottsville man who died tragically young say they are devastated at the prospect of being forced to remove the small plaque in memory of their father.
More than 100 people gathered at Hastings Point headland in November 2015 in memory of well-known surfer and local tradesman Justin Crawford, who died suddenly of a heart attack in June 2015 aged just 41, leaving behind his widow and two children.
His ashes were scattered out to sea during a paddle-out and a small memorial plaque fixed to a rock on the point.
But now Tweed Shire Council has contacted his family, and others with plaques in memory of their loved ones at Hastings Point and Fingal Head, to warn them their memorials may be removed under a draft new policy currently on public display.
Council's director of community and cultural services Tracey Stinson, who admitted complaints had been made to council, said the draft policy was an important step towards establishing consistency.
"While at this time we are talking about relatively few monuments we are aware it is important to address this issue before it becomes a more common practice," Ms Stinson said.
"We do understand people's wish to memorialise loved ones, however to ensure equity and consistency in how this is managed there needs to be an approval process.
"There are a large number of people, both residents and visitors to our shire, who wish to enjoy the natural environment in an unaltered state and allowing these memorials to spread across these much loved natural areas is not appropriate."
Roadside tributes, which are covered by a separate policy, will continue to be allowed as long as they are regularly maintained.
But Mr Crawford's widow, Mel Crawford, questioned what the difference was between a roadside memorial and one far less distracting on a rock at Hastings Point.
"I think roadside memorials are more in your face, and why are they allowed?" she said.
"These little memorials are a lot smaller, they are not in your face unless you go and look for them.
"It doesn't damage nature, it is not blocking a view, it is off the beaten track and it is a special place for some people."
Mrs Crawford's daughter, Lilly-Anne, 13, said Hastings was a special place for her father, who visited the headland every day before his death.
"My dad surfed in that area a lot and he especially loved that area specifically," Lilly-Anne said.
"To me, that place is just a very sacred and sweet area to remember him. If I want to visit my dad, I would go there.
"You can't be that selfish to think these plaques and memorials built for people who are deceased are there to upset you. It is not a big deal, you can just ignore it, it is not that hard."
Mrs Crawford, who recently had a new plaque made to replace the rusting one on their rock, said she would be happy to comply with any new regulations as long as the memorials were allowed.
"It is a place he loved. It is where he hung out all the time, where he surfed. He went there every day before work and after work, so it was a very special place for him," she said.