Long-awaited work to complete the Princess Diana Memorial Garden in Swadlincote has stalled while contractors await a delivery of granite, it has been revealed.
It comes as a Swadlincote resident spoke during a public meeting of her disappointment that a local company was not given the contract for the £90,000 renovation, which instead was awarded to a firm in Melton Mowbray.
The memorial is currently undergoing a revamp and is part of a larger project aiming to further improve the town, as part of the Swadlincote Townscape Heritage Scheme.
The resident spoke out during the latest Swadlincote Area Forum meeting at Swadlincote Town Hall.
She said: "The Princess Diana memorial Garden is quite a pleasant area. My first surprise was that the company carrying out the work is from Melton Mowbray. Surely we should have a local company?
"And secondly it all seems to have come to a standstill and what is still there is just an eyesore. At a time of cutbacks was this work really necessary?"
Frank McArdle, chief executive of South Derbyshire District Council, told the meeting the money for the revamp did not come from the public purse.
He said: "We applied for a heritage grant (from the Heritage Lottery Fund) and without that money it would have got worse in condition. We are now taking it from getting worse to much better."
On the renovation contract award to the Melton Mowbray firm, Mr McArdle said the work went out to tender and the council was obliged to take best price.
He said of the delay: "Workers are waiting for a granite delivery and when that arrives we will start again."
Following a pubic consultation, new plans will see a mini amphitheatre, sensory garden, sculptures as well as interactive educational boards, and a water feature using the grassed area behind the memorial.
The memorial garden, located at the bottom of Alexandra Road and originally created to celebrate the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles to Diana, later became the scene of an outpouring of grief following her death in 1997 after a road accident in Paris.
A landscaped seating area will be created around a beech tree for residents to visit and remember the princess. The garden will feature a poem written by local poet, Kevin Fegan, which remembers Princess Diana and the history of the area.
The redevelopment of the garden is part of a larger project aiming to further improve the town, as part of the Swadlincote Townscape Heritage Scheme.
The garden's history
The space was originally used by Sharpe's pottery as a clay hearth where the Sharpe family used to store their clay, leaving it in the open air prior to use.
In 1981 during a period of regeneration a small garden was created with a plaque to celebrate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana – and officially revealed by Princess Anne who was in town to open the nearby Grove Hall.
The focus of the new Welcome Zone area, is the existing mature beech tree which shelters the space and is encircled by block paving which are sized in a way to give the illusion of rising out of the ground, reflecting the surrounding pottery kilns and the site's history as a pottery clay hearth.
Princess Diana visited Swadlincote in 1991, but when tragedy struck in the summer of 1997, the public used the space to lay flowers. A plaque was mounted in her memory and it is now known as the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Garden.