Anger grows as 5,000 sign graves petition

9:42am Wednesday 25th June 2014

A CWMBRAN mother has presented her local council with a petition of more than 5,000 signatures calling for changes in its grave decoration policy.

Mother-of-seven Catherine Board whose stillborn son is buried at Cwmbran Cemetery, spearheaded the campaign which led to the petition against the cemetery regulations. She presented the petition to Torfaen council in chamber yesterday morning.

Problems started when policy which has been established for a number of years, was suddenly enforced by Torfaen council, who asked relatives of those buried in the authority’s four cemeteries to remove certain personal items. The council said items such as stone chippings, windmills, solar lights and wind chimes were not permitted.

The online petition, titled: “Torfaen council: Leave our children’s resting place alone”, had 5,013 signatures which were collected in just four weeks.

Ms Board, of Thornhill, said: “Everyone is absolutely disgusted and don’t think it’s right. It’s about why they are enforcing it now, when they never have up until now.

Ms Board’s son was buried 10 years ago and she has been visiting his grave ever since. Around his grave are chippings, a fence, toy cars, garden gnomes and other mementos. But now added to these items is a sign, aimed at council officers, which warns that if anything should be taken from the grave without her permission, they are liable for prosecution.

On June 12, we reported how mementoes left on the grave of a week-old baby at Panteg Cemetery had been sent to landfill.

Ms Board said: “I go up as often as I can, but at the moment I’m going up every day to make sure it’s not been wrecked.

“I’ve been breaking my heart every day about it. I’m worried sick about turning up and stuff going. There’s sentimental value behind it.”

The Cwmbran mother admitted she’d been overwhelmed by the support. She said: “We didn’t expect that many (signatures). We’ve had people from as far as America signing it.”

Independent Torfaen councillor Elizabeth Haynes has endorsed the petition from the beginning and was delighted with the response.

She said: “It’s a phenomenal amount (of signatures) which shows the strength of feeling.

“I believe there are some inconsistencies as some graves have been stripped and others haven’t.

“I welcome the fact the leader of the council has suggested that a member seminar take place to discuss graves personalisation and he apologised for any distress to residents.”

A Torfaen council spokesman said: “The petition has been received and will now be passed to the executive member for neighbourhood services for his consideration. A decision on whether to amend the existing policy will be made after the summer recess.

“A member seminar on the council’s cemetery policy will be held at the end of July, and this is open for the public to attend.”

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