Families ‘appalled’ over binned grave memorials

Free Press Series: Families in Torfaen are opposed to plans by the council to remove personal items from graves and have collected a 5,000 signature petition (6970075) Families in Torfaen are opposed to plans by the council to remove personal items from graves and have collected a 5,000 signature petition (6970075)

FRESH outrage has been caused over a borough’s cemetery rules after workers sent mementoes placed on children’s graves to landfill.

Labour-led Torfaen council sparked fury earlier this year when it pledged to remove items like chimes and windmills to comply with cemetery rules and regulations produced in 2011.

It had set a date of Saturday, May 31 for the removal of prohibited items.

The local authority began its purge the very next day by binning items.

But it has now been suggested the council has broken its own rules by binning items which should have been stored for collection for a month.

Mum-of-two Gaynor Carr, 57, was told mementoes left on the grave of her week-old son Andrew at Panteg Cemetery had been sent to a tip at the weekend.

Ms Carr, of Griffithstown, said: “I’m absolutely devas-tated.

“To visit your son’s grave and see items have been removed is absolutely appalling. It’s a baby’s grave which has been there for 30 years.

“To hear it’s gone to a tip is so degrading. It’s the lowest of the low.”

In cemetery rules produced in 2011, Torfaen council said it would store “non authorised” items for four weeks so relatives could collect them.

Mother-of-seven Catherine Bishop, whose stillborn son Andrew is buried at Cwmbran Cemetery, has spearhea-ded a campaign which has seen 5,000 people sign a petition against the cemetery regulations.

Ms Bishop said: “I think it is stupid, hurtful and disrespectful. They are children at the end of the day.

“The amount of grief and hurt this is causing is beyond the pale.

“Not everybody can get down to the cemetery. I still think they should keep them for 28 days.”

Independent Torfaen councillor Elizabeth Haynes has endorsed the petition which is to be presented to a full council meeting on Tuesday, June 24.

She said: “I feel for the parents who have been allowed to personalise graves all this time and are now being told they can’t. It really touches a nerve.”

Torfaen council confirmed yesterday it had begun a “targeted clear up”, having given families a two-month notice.

A council spokesman said: “If any non-authorised items are identified as part of our routine grounds maintenance programme, they are removed in accordance with the rules and regulations, the owner is then notified and given a period of a month to collect them if they wish.

“On this occasion, we felt it necessary to undertake a targeted clear up of all of our cemeteries to address the over-personalisation of some graves. We are responsible for 38,000 burials and given the scale of the work, it was not possible to write to all grave owners.”

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