Families hit out at Torfaen graveyard 'personalisation' rules

Cwmbran residents angry at council decision to remove decorations from children's graves. Pictured are local residents at Cwmbran cemetery in Llantarnam Road. (5405644)

Cwmbran residents angry at council decision to remove decorations from children's graves. Pictured is Sarah King at the grave of her daughter Brooke at Cwmbran cemetery in Llantarnam Road. (5405737)

Cwmbran residents angry at council decision to remove decorations from children's graves. Pictured is Sarah King at the grave of her daughter Brooke at Cwmbran cemetery in Llantarnam Road. (5405772)

First published in News

PLANS to strip Torfaen graves of “over personalisation” have been met with a backlash of emotion from residents.

Torfaen council officials have sent out a reminder of their policy and given grave owners and visitors until May 31 to remove any non-regulatory items – glassware, stone chippings, windmills, solar lights, fencing, and wind chimes.

After that, decorations not meeting cemetery rules and regulations will be removed by staff, it announced in a reminder letter last week, to “preserve the dignity of cemeteries” and prevent health and safety implications for grounds maintenance staff.

But the decision has struck a nerve across the borough, with more than 3,880 people signing an online petition in just four days.

In Cwmbran, there is a small corner plot of around 40 children’s graves – the majority of which are heavily decked out with items including ornaments, teddy bears, balloons and toys, alongside others ruled as prohibited.

Sarah King, who set up the petition with Lesley Hartland and has two children buried at the site, called it “heartbreaking” for parents.

“We have paid lots of money to make it look beautiful, and we maintain it ourselves to keep it that way,” she said. “It’s hard enough to lose a child as it is, without senseless situations like this.”

Her daughter, Brooke, who died six years ago, has a number of items within the memorial area of her grave, including a stone chippings, and a fairy wind chime.

But like others with plots at the ceremony, where around 25 people gathered united in objection yesterday, Ms King said she had no intention of removing items herself.

Many of the protestors said they knew nothing of the regulations before last week.

Cathryn Broad said: “There have never been any signs up here, and my son’s grave has been decorated as it is now for ten years.

“Siblings come here to leave gifts and presents. How can they take that away?”

Kirsty McCarthy said she would be at the cemetery on May 31 to make sure no items were taken

Her step-son, Thomas Davies, eight, said he hoped none of the items he had left would be taken.

Sally Burlow, who has decorated her son’s grave with several windmills, and bright blue stone chippings, added: “There will be absolute uproar if this goes ahead. When I look at Tobi’s grave I see him, full of colour and life.”

Angry comments on the online petition labelled it “utterly disgusting” and “disrespectful to the memories of our little angels”.

But Torfaen council was keen to stress the regulations are not new, and that not all items would be removed.

Councillor John Cunningham, executive member for neighbourhood services, said: “There has been no change to our existing cemetery policies and we are not banning the personalisation of graves in Torfaen.

“The purpose of our recent announcement was to raise awareness of the existing cemetery rules, and to give visitors to our cemeteries a period of notice in which to remove any items that are not permitted.

“The personalisation of graves is a very sensitive issue and we fully understand the need for families to express their love for those who have passed.”

He also said a “greater degree of personalisation” would be allowed within the children’s sections at Cwmbran and Llwyncelyn. The council said there had been recent concerns raised about items on graves in the area.

The cemetery rules and regulations can be viewed at bit.ly/1fJh3vG

For more information, contact the council’s cemetery officer regarding on 01633 871786.

The petition can be found at petitionbuzz.com/petitions/torfaen

Comments (10)

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11:54am Tue 15 Apr 14

maggie62 says...

I visit the children's section of the cemetery often and while I understand the views of some of the parents, there is another view to be held.

There is nothing wrong with putting windmills or adornments on the headstones, but the gravelled areas that have been made have made the cemetery very untidy, unkempt and difficult for the council to cut grass on the graves that do not have this gravelled areas. Some people have made the areas so wide it is difficult to negotiate pathways to individual graves.

The council are comprising saying the children section will be more lenient, but I believe the council is right in stating the regulations and the gravelled areas should be removed.
I visit the children's section of the cemetery often and while I understand the views of some of the parents, there is another view to be held. There is nothing wrong with putting windmills or adornments on the headstones, but the gravelled areas that have been made have made the cemetery very untidy, unkempt and difficult for the council to cut grass on the graves that do not have this gravelled areas. Some people have made the areas so wide it is difficult to negotiate pathways to individual graves. The council are comprising saying the children section will be more lenient, but I believe the council is right in stating the regulations and the gravelled areas should be removed. maggie62
  • Score: 20

12:57pm Tue 15 Apr 14

manager111 says...

There comes a time when rules must be made, parts of the cemetery look more like a junk yard, rather than a cemetery. It wouldn't be so bad if people, looked after the things they put on the graves but they don't they are just left to rot, and blow across the rest of the cemetery, people do not want broken windmills and solar lights littering the areas.
There comes a time when rules must be made, parts of the cemetery look more like a junk yard, rather than a cemetery. It wouldn't be so bad if people, looked after the things they put on the graves but they don't they are just left to rot, and blow across the rest of the cemetery, people do not want broken windmills and solar lights littering the areas. manager111
  • Score: 24

3:29pm Tue 15 Apr 14

Leanne Cook says...

So if these are the rules, why have anything been said yours ago, my nephew passed away at 6weeks old and he would of been 12 this year. Its disgusting
So if these are the rules, why have anything been said yours ago, my nephew passed away at 6weeks old and he would of been 12 this year. Its disgusting Leanne Cook
  • Score: -5

3:34pm Tue 15 Apr 14

deafbystereo says...

@manager111 get a grip, and have a bit of sensitivity. something whcih the council dont.
I have experience of this situation from panteg cemetery so I know how these people are feeling.
anything left by someone at their loved one's graveside is intended to stay there for a reason, they dont purposely leave it there to blow away and I know a good effort would be made to make sure things are secure.
The councli threatning to remove items by a certain date is unfair and insensitive - I know they tried it with me.
So just think how these people are feeling before you leave anymore "rules must be made" comments
@manager111 get a grip, and have a bit of sensitivity. something whcih the council dont. I have experience of this situation from panteg cemetery so I know how these people are feeling. anything left by someone at their loved one's graveside is intended to stay there for a reason, they dont purposely leave it there to blow away and I know a good effort would be made to make sure things are secure. The councli threatning to remove items by a certain date is unfair and insensitive - I know they tried it with me. So just think how these people are feeling before you leave anymore "rules must be made" comments deafbystereo
  • Score: -2

12:11pm Wed 16 Apr 14

cat1975 says...

I have my son in cwmbran cemetery and i for one will not be removing anything!!!! There is nothing offensive on there and as there is a fence around the gravel there is no safety issue at all. When their workmen do go in there on the very odd occasion they wreck Everything and leave it in a right mess. Whilst blaring the radio and yet they say we have to respect their wishes. We as parents have all said that we will maintain it ourselves between us and to those who have complained i really do not understand why it is causing you so many problems.
I have my son in cwmbran cemetery and i for one will not be removing anything!!!! There is nothing offensive on there and as there is a fence around the gravel there is no safety issue at all. When their workmen do go in there on the very odd occasion they wreck Everything and leave it in a right mess. Whilst blaring the radio and yet they say we have to respect their wishes. We as parents have all said that we will maintain it ourselves between us and to those who have complained i really do not understand why it is causing you so many problems. cat1975
  • Score: 0

2:06pm Wed 16 Apr 14

manager111 says...

cat1975 wrote:
I have my son in cwmbran cemetery and i for one will not be removing anything!!!! There is nothing offensive on there and as there is a fence around the gravel there is no safety issue at all. When their workmen do go in there on the very odd occasion they wreck Everything and leave it in a right mess. Whilst blaring the radio and yet they say we have to respect their wishes. We as parents have all said that we will maintain it ourselves between us and to those who have complained i really do not understand why it is causing you so many problems.
Why is it only now after all the warnings have been given, that you have all decided to clean up the mess yourselves, did it not occur to any of you that other people have relatives in the cemetery, and they do not want broken bits of windmills, stuffed toys and broken solar lamps littering their relatives graves. It seems that you are only agreeing to clear the mess now because of the council ordering no more ridiculous tacky ornaments. Up until then you didn't care.
[quote][p][bold]cat1975[/bold] wrote: I have my son in cwmbran cemetery and i for one will not be removing anything!!!! There is nothing offensive on there and as there is a fence around the gravel there is no safety issue at all. When their workmen do go in there on the very odd occasion they wreck Everything and leave it in a right mess. Whilst blaring the radio and yet they say we have to respect their wishes. We as parents have all said that we will maintain it ourselves between us and to those who have complained i really do not understand why it is causing you so many problems.[/p][/quote]Why is it only now after all the warnings have been given, that you have all decided to clean up the mess yourselves, did it not occur to any of you that other people have relatives in the cemetery, and they do not want broken bits of windmills, stuffed toys and broken solar lamps littering their relatives graves. It seems that you are only agreeing to clear the mess now because of the council ordering no more ridiculous tacky ornaments. Up until then you didn't care. manager111
  • Score: -1

5:50pm Wed 16 Apr 14

rainbow121 says...

manager111 Im sorry that you feel that solar lights, windmills and teddies for a dead child are 'tacky ornaments' the majority of the childrens graves are clean , tidy and well kept, maybe if you had a child buried there you would feel differently... I pray you never experience it
manager111 Im sorry that you feel that solar lights, windmills and teddies for a dead child are 'tacky ornaments' the majority of the childrens graves are clean , tidy and well kept, maybe if you had a child buried there you would feel differently... I pray you never experience it rainbow121
  • Score: 1

8:32pm Wed 16 Apr 14

westender says...

manager111 wrote:
There comes a time when rules must be made, parts of the cemetery look more like a junk yard, rather than a cemetery. It wouldn't be so bad if people, looked after the things they put on the graves but they don't they are just left to rot, and blow across the rest of the cemetery, people do not want broken windmills and solar lights littering the areas.
Are the rules for Newport's cemeteries the same as Caerphilly county's? ie when you purchase a plot you are told that you must not embellish the grave
other than flowers at the headstone, this rule has been enforced at our cemeteries some objected but the vast majority agreed and the cemetery now looks a lot better without balloons and windmills
[quote][p][bold]manager111[/bold] wrote: There comes a time when rules must be made, parts of the cemetery look more like a junk yard, rather than a cemetery. It wouldn't be so bad if people, looked after the things they put on the graves but they don't they are just left to rot, and blow across the rest of the cemetery, people do not want broken windmills and solar lights littering the areas.[/p][/quote]Are the rules for Newport's cemeteries the same as Caerphilly county's? ie when you purchase a plot you are told that you must not embellish the grave other than flowers at the headstone, this rule has been enforced at our cemeteries some objected but the vast majority agreed and the cemetery now looks a lot better without balloons and windmills westender
  • Score: 1

1:10am Thu 17 Apr 14

Button123 says...

I have to say that I am completely disgusted with TCBC. Yet again the way they have gone about things stinks !!!!
They want to keep continuity throughout the borough but yet neglect half of it. They do not maintain Panteg as they do the new Cwmbran cemetary. There workers drive around in TCBC vehicles at high speeds around the cemetary, playing loud music and using bad language. The workers have zero respect for grieving family's while visiting there loved ones grave. Although I understand there needs to be rules I feel that TCBC needs to practise what they preach.
TCBC what about the trees that are up-turning our family members headstones ? We all paid good money to have beautiful headstones, but these are being damaged and yet we have to pay for repairs. You have toilet facilities in Cwmbran but yet fail to repair Pantegs ? Don't make me laugh "Continuity" this yet again is a pointless exercise just like the waste of money you spent on the traffic light in pontypool.
Leave grieving families alone !! John Cunningham I hope you never have to go through what these poor parents have, yet another fat cat that gets paid far too much talking a load of nonsense.
I for one will be supporting this petition !!!
I have to say that I am completely disgusted with TCBC. Yet again the way they have gone about things stinks !!!! They want to keep continuity throughout the borough but yet neglect half of it. They do not maintain Panteg as they do the new Cwmbran cemetary. There workers drive around in TCBC vehicles at high speeds around the cemetary, playing loud music and using bad language. The workers have zero respect for grieving family's while visiting there loved ones grave. Although I understand there needs to be rules I feel that TCBC needs to practise what they preach. TCBC what about the trees that are up-turning our family members headstones ? We all paid good money to have beautiful headstones, but these are being damaged and yet we have to pay for repairs. You have toilet facilities in Cwmbran but yet fail to repair Pantegs ? Don't make me laugh "Continuity" this yet again is a pointless exercise just like the waste of money you spent on the traffic light in pontypool. Leave grieving families alone !! John Cunningham I hope you never have to go through what these poor parents have, yet another fat cat that gets paid far too much talking a load of nonsense. I for one will be supporting this petition !!! Button123
  • Score: 2

4:10am Fri 18 Apr 14

screamladyt says...

My son is in this cemetery and I am in this picture protesting! How dare u say our children's graves are tacky u insensitive fool. The council has just been and cut round the windmills and solar lights they say is a hazard! As parents who are against it we have said don't bother cutting our grass round our child and we will maintain it. And I am hurt that u say this cemetery resembles a junk yard how dare u...some of us has spent a fortune making are babies look loved. And each and every thing left is out of love and for a reason that teddy you called tacky was probley of the child's brother or sister left to comfort them.. think before u speak u horrible person. While each person is entitled to there opinion there's no need for that. This is our way off coping don't like it don't look but you will have to arrest me first before anything gets taken of my son's garden!
My son is in this cemetery and I am in this picture protesting! How dare u say our children's graves are tacky u insensitive fool. The council has just been and cut round the windmills and solar lights they say is a hazard! As parents who are against it we have said don't bother cutting our grass round our child and we will maintain it. And I am hurt that u say this cemetery resembles a junk yard how dare u...some of us has spent a fortune making are babies look loved. And each and every thing left is out of love and for a reason that teddy you called tacky was probley of the child's brother or sister left to comfort them.. think before u speak u horrible person. While each person is entitled to there opinion there's no need for that. This is our way off coping don't like it don't look but you will have to arrest me first before anything gets taken of my son's garden! screamladyt
  • Score: 1

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