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Family of taxi driver lobby for bench in his memory
THE family and colleagues of a wellloved taxi driver from Salisbury, who died from cancer last month, are campaigning for a bench to be put back by the taxi rank in his memory.
Andy Gilkes, who was a taxi driver in the city for 25 years, died of cancer on July 22 after becoming ill last November.
He spent a lot of time at the rank and the bench at the back of tReds shoe shop became known as “Andy’s bench”.
It was removed when renovation works were carried out at the taxi rank and his family and fellow taxi drivers are now calling for a memorial bench with a plaque to be put back in the same place.
But Wiltshire Council says a bench cannot be put in the same place now as the space is used as a turning area for buses and disabled vehicles, so there isn’t enough room.
The council has offered to put a plaque up where the bench used to be and it plans to put new benches further down the rank, outside the Chick-O-Land take-away.
Taxi driver Stuart Cummins said: “There has always been a bench there and the pavement is wider now than it was when there was a bench there before.
“It would be no wider than the bin that’s there and there’s enough room for a wheelchair to get past.
“We used to say it was his bench, which is why we want it back there and I don’t see any problems.”
Mr Gilkes’ widow, Bianca, added: “We want to have somewhere that people can remember him.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: "We are fully behind the taxi drivers' desire to find a suitable way of remembering Mr Gilkes, and we would like to work with them to do this.
"However, the previous site for the bench is now no longer suitable due to the nearby parking for market and community bus services, and a desire not to restrict the footway width available for use by pedestrians and wheelchair users in this area.
"We have suggested alternative options, including putting a plaque on the wall in the area where the bench was previously sited or on one of the new benches that will shortly be installed at the eastern end of New Canal.
"We are waiting to hear back from representatives of the taxi drivers do we can work together to move this forward."
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