Families hit out at Torfaen graveyard rules

Danielle Richardson and Emma Quinn (centre) with supporters at Panteg cemetery where the council have a policy against decorations on graves

"DISRESPECTFUL": Danielle Richardson and Emma Quinn (centre) with supporters at Panteg cemetery where the council have a policy against decorations on graves

First published in News

MORE Torfaen residents have waged war with the local authority over plans to strip graves of “over personalisation”.

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

After that, decorations not meeting cemetery rules and regulations will be removed by staff, a letter said, 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.

Danielle Richardson has covered her stillborn-son’s grave at Panteg cemetery in decorations for years, she said, including solar lights and windmills.

She said: “It is emotionally important for us to be able to do this. At Christmas we leave toys and presents. My daughter says to me the solar lights mean his stone shines like the stars. She, like us, would be devastated if that were taken away.”

Emma Quinn, from New Inn, also decorates her son’s grave at Panteg. She called it “disgusting and disrespectful”.

The petition was started by the mum of Amber Hartland, who died in 2008 from a rare genetic disorder and is known locally as ‘Cwmbran’s angel’.

Lesley Hartland, who has heavily decorated her daughter’s grave, said: “Her grave means the world to us. It’s all we have left of our little girl.”

An emotional backlash has been particularly strong in Cwmbran where the cemetery has a small corner plot of around 40 children’s graves.

The Argus reported how around 25 people gathered there on Monday, many of whom said they had no intention of removing items themselves.

Kirsty McCarthy said: “All children are different, in death as they are in life. Why should all graves be the same?”

Sam King, who was also behind the petition said it was “heartbreaking” for parents.

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: “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.”

It was also said that concerns had been raised by visitors over items on graves, but a “greater degree of personalisation” would be allowed within the children’s sections at Cwmbran and Llwyncelyn.

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

To speak to the council’s cemetery officer call 01633 871786.

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

Comments (6)

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11:42am Thu 17 Apr 14

-trigg- says...

To be fair,, the "decorations" in the title picture are tacky in the extreme and not what I would want to see if I was at the plot next door paying my respects.
To be fair,, the "decorations" in the title picture are tacky in the extreme and not what I would want to see if I was at the plot next door paying my respects. -trigg-
  • Score: 3

2:52pm Thu 17 Apr 14

lexilou says...

I take it trigg that you have never been unfortunate enough to lose a child, also would like to point out that everybody pays for their plot therefore each plot belongs to the person naed on the deed so surely they are entitled to remember their children how they like as owners of the grave plot
I take it trigg that you have never been unfortunate enough to lose a child, also would like to point out that everybody pays for their plot therefore each plot belongs to the person naed on the deed so surely they are entitled to remember their children how they like as owners of the grave plot lexilou
  • Score: 1

3:58pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Newport Dave says...

lexilou wrote:
I take it trigg that you have never been unfortunate enough to lose a child, also would like to point out that everybody pays for their plot therefore each plot belongs to the person naed on the deed so surely they are entitled to remember their children how they like as owners of the grave plot
It really is tragic to lose a child as many of us know and it happens too often.

That aside, yes, the lease for the plot allows you certain rights, but we all still have to abide by their regulations. It isn't Carte Blanche.

While I believe a couple of tastefully placed items are fine, when anyone makes a grave look like a carnival stall, it is a step too far.
[quote][p][bold]lexilou[/bold] wrote: I take it trigg that you have never been unfortunate enough to lose a child, also would like to point out that everybody pays for their plot therefore each plot belongs to the person naed on the deed so surely they are entitled to remember their children how they like as owners of the grave plot[/p][/quote]It really is tragic to lose a child as many of us know and it happens too often. That aside, yes, the lease for the plot allows you certain rights, but we all still have to abide by their regulations. It isn't Carte Blanche. While I believe a couple of tastefully placed items are fine, when anyone makes a grave look like a carnival stall, it is a step too far. Newport Dave
  • Score: 3

4:11pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Newport Dave says...

lexilou.............
.

Your assumption says that everyone who has lost a child would want to decorate their grave like the picture above.

You couldn't be more wrong.
lexilou............. . Your assumption says that everyone who has lost a child would want to decorate their grave like the picture above. You couldn't be more wrong. Newport Dave
  • Score: 2

10:58pm Thu 17 Apr 14

lexilou says...

No newport Dave that is not my assumption at all, what I was saying is if that is what makes them happy then who am I to argue with them, I have lost a child also and no this is not how I would decorate his grave I have his headstone and as you said a couple of tasteful pottery angels to me this is enough with any flowers I place but to others it would not be, what I was trying to say is each to their own I suppose
No newport Dave that is not my assumption at all, what I was saying is if that is what makes them happy then who am I to argue with them, I have lost a child also and no this is not how I would decorate his grave I have his headstone and as you said a couple of tasteful pottery angels to me this is enough with any flowers I place but to others it would not be, what I was trying to say is each to their own I suppose lexilou
  • Score: 0

4:52pm Sat 19 Apr 14

coalpicker says...

TYPICAL Torfaen response, the rules are there for a reason, enforce them
lets have some backbone and discipline.I am fed up with moving crazy junk from my wife's grave in panteg from the grand fathers grave next door.
TYPICAL Torfaen response, the rules are there for a reason, enforce them lets have some backbone and discipline.I am fed up with moving crazy junk from my wife's grave in panteg from the grand fathers grave next door. coalpicker
  • Score: 0

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