Pictured top: Friends lay flowers at the bench in Chalk Farm Road.
Pictured centre: Louise Cattell, ‘a fantastic girl’, said her mother
Pictured bottom: Makeshift repairs to the damaged bench
Published: 12 April 2012
by RICHARD OSLEY
A MEMORIAL bench for “Little Lou” has been found splintered and broken, leading her mother to fear vandals had tried to trash it.
Clearly marked with a plaque for Louise Cattell, the 21-year-old musician and promoter who died after taking ketamine last year, the wooden bench in Chalk Farm Road had its back legs snapped last month.
Louise’s friends carried out a makeshift repair after discovering the damage and becoming concerned that the bench had become dangerous to sit on.
It is positioned close to the Marathon Kebab House, a favourite spot for Louise, who used to perform cabaret routines inside.
Camden Council gave permission for the bench earlier this year and it is screwed into the ground.
Looking across at the Roundhouse, it is often seen decorated with flowers left by friends.
Louise’s mother, Vicky Unwin, said: “It looks as if somebody has almost tried to get a chain and lift it up out of the ground – but who would do that?
“It is clearly marked as a bench for Little Lou and you can’t imagine what is going through people’s minds if they are causing damage to it.
She had such happy times at the Marathon, so everybody thought that would be the best place to put it.
We raised the money but we thought: if it gets damaged in one of Camden’s streets, then it is up to the council to repair it.”
Yesterday (Wed), four friends laid new flowers at the bench, which has a piece of wood propping up its broken slats.
It was suggested that somebody had ridden a bike into the side of it and failed to report the damage.
Ms Unwin was told yesterday that initial guidance that the bench would have to be fixed by the people who organised its installation was wrong.
A council spokeswoman said: “Once a memorial bench has been installed on the public highway, Camden Council has the responsibility to maintain it or if it is in a dangerous condition remove and replace it.
“It is extremely unfortunate that Ms Unwin received this response.
We will contact Ms Unwin for further details, and this will help ensure that this does not happen again.
We have noted the temporary repairs carried out, which are helpful while we arrange for repair or replacement.”