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Underpass tribute to Daniel Rush to be whitewashed and replaced
A memorial to a Meriden teenager who was brutally murdered is to be painted over and replaced with a different tribute, Watford Community Housing Trust has confirmed.
The graffiti-style cross was painted on the wall of the underpass connecting Lea Farm Park with the Meriden estate following the murder of 18-year-old Daniel Rush in 2003.
Mr Rush was attacked with what is believed to have been a hammer in Longspring on February 24, he died in hospital a week later.
Last week contractors arrived to begin white-washing the walls, leaving behind the tribute by an anonymous artist which appeared shortly after Daniel's death and will remain until a suitable replacement can be agreed with Mr Rush’s relatives.
But the sight of contractors working in the tunnel has left feelings running high in the community with several people reportedly questioning workers directly about whether the cross would be painted over.
Former Labour candidate Seamus Williams, 20, said: "I was walking towards ASDA last week when I saw somebody from the housing trust painting near a mural that was done 10 years ago.
"It is important to me because this is somebody from my generation.
"There hasn’t been any consultation process with residents.
But Meriden Residents’ Association Chairman Peter Sweeting disagreed, he said: "People say they are worried about what is going to happen but we held a meeting [about the underpass] in the community centre on Tuesday night and how many of these people came? Not very many.
"Their concerns about the memorial haven’t stopped people using that area as a toilet."
Mr Sweeting said the residents’ association and the housing trust were in contact with Mr Rush’s brother Scott who suggested a apinting of an oak tree as an alternative design.
He said: "He [Mr Rush] suggested putting a little plaque on the wall but I said if you did that today it will be gone by tomorrow morning.
"He agreed that we were going to maintain the memorial and he was the first one to suggest an oak tree, an oak tree is pretty sturdy and hopefully it will last a long time."
Watford Community Housing Trust spokesman Joe Dumont said artwork in the rest of the tunnel has been painted over as part of works to improve the area and will be replaced by designs created by children from three local schools.
Tina Barnard, chief executive of the trust, said: "We are replacing the old artwork in the subway with new designs created by children from Alban Wood, Berrygrove and Cherry Tree Schools, and these will be painted onto the walls by September 10.
"However, in line with the wishes of Daniel Rush’s family and Meriden Residents’ Association, we are carefully preserving the memorial space - we realise it is very important to keep this.
"The Residents’ Association has been working closely with the Rush family on a new design to preserve Daniel’s memory, and we will start painting this after the 10th.
"Meanwhile the existing memorial artwork is being left as it is."