THE mother of a Royal Marine who was killed during the Iraq war is facing a battle with the council over the installation of a specially-designed bench in his memory.

Earlier this year, the Royal Marines based at Hamworthy noticed Corporal Ian Plank’s memorial bench at Lake Pier was decaying and took it upon themselves to remove it and restore it to its former glory.

Unfortunately, Ian’s mother, Elizabeth, was not aware at first this was happening and, when she noticed the bench missing, she reported it to the council and agreed to purchase a replacement.

However, when she found out Ian’s original bench had been renovated, complete with a new engraved plaque, she went back to the council to ask if it could be re-installed. However, she was told it ‘no longer conformed’ with other benches at the beach.

The decision has left her outraged. She told the Daily Echo that Ian’s bench had been in place for 15 years following his death in Iraq in October 2003.

The heroic 31-year-old, who served with the Special Boat Squadron, was killed in a battle between British and American special forces and supporters of Saddam Hussein, aided by foreign fighters.

He was the 52nd British serviceman to have died in Iraq since March 2003.

“The council’s reasoning that the restored bench can’t be put back and needs to conform with the others is so ridiculous. It’s bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness, and to not allow it to be installed is grossly unfair,” Elizabeth said.

“Ian’s friends in the Marines restored the bench with all the best intentions. When I found out, they apologised profusely. They wanted it to be done before Remembrance Sunday. They renovated the bench quite beautifully and even got a nice engraved plaque for it.”

She added: “I cannot understand why the council is reluctant for the original bench to go back in its rightful place where it has been for the last 15 years.

“Surely it would be quite a simple job for the council to remove their bench and put it somewhere else and allow Ian’s bench to be put back?”

Kate Langdown, joint head of service at Poole council, said as the replacement has already been installed, the council is suggesting the original be “retained by the Royal Marines in their barracks as a goodwill gesture”.

She added: “We are very sorry to hear of the family's distress, especially as we have had discussions with them about the disappearance of the bench and its renewal period, which had expired.

“The family of Corporal Ian Plank contacted the council to advise us that the memorial bench had gone missing. The council assumed that this bench had been stolen and therefore agreed to replace the bench and to provide a new replacement engraved plaque. This replacement bench was installed in the original location at Lake Pier and Mrs Plank was pleased with the result.

“Mrs Plank then contacted us again some time after the replacement bench and plaque had been installed to let us know that she had been advised by the Royal Marines that they had removed the original bench without notice to either the family or to the council.”

Ms Langdown did not comment on whether the refurbished bench conformed with others at the site.