Council may change grave personalisation rules

Families in Torfaen are opposed to plans by the council to remove personal items from graves and have collected a 5,000 signature petition (6969823)

Families in Torfaen are opposed to plans by the council to remove personal items from graves and have collected a 5,000 signature petition (6969823)

First published in News
Last updated

COUNCIL chiefs criticised for sending grave mementoes to landfill are to discuss potential amendments to their cemetery personalisation rules this autumn.

Torfaen council sparked fury last month [June] after binning items that had adorned the graves of loved ones for years.

The Labour council enforced cemetery regulations dating back to 2011 following a two-month consultation with residents.

But the local authority may have broken its own rules by binning mementoes such as wind chimes and solar lights without having stored them for collection for a month.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition which called on cemetery workers to leave the grave items alone.

Yesterday[July 28], council officers briefed councillors on the cemetery policy and the way forward at Pontypool Civic Centre.

No decision was made at the seminar, but officers agreed to produce a report on the policy, which could contain amendments to its rules.

Independent Torfaen Cllr, Liz Haynes, endorsed the petition presented to the council last month.

She said: “I have had lots of people come to me crying.

“Having gone to babies’ graves, it’s heart-wrenching and to send them to landfill is sickening.

“There needs to be some very open discussion with people.

“I don’t believe two months was a lot of time.

“I think the consultation has failed in lots of instances.

“I also believe there has been some inconsistencies in the enforcement of rules and regulations.”

During the seminar, council officers said they banned mementoes including glass items for health and safety reasons, as they could injure cemetery workers and the public when graves are maintained.

They added that wind chimes and solar lights were not allowed as they could cause noise and light pollution near properties in Torfaen.

Torfaen council neighbourhood executive member, Cllr John Cunningham, said: “There should be rules. We need to apply them with some sensitivity.

“We have done our best with the consultation.

“I think the message got lost. We never said personalisation is not allowed. It is over personalisation like windmills.

“It gives comfort to some people but it also causes distress to others who want to be there in solitude.”

The report is be presented to a council or cabinet meeting in September or October.

Torfaen council officials had given grave owners and visitors until May 31 to remove any non-regulatory items.

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

But the decision 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 have been heavily decked out with items including ornaments, teddy bears, balloons and toys, for years.

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 at the time. “It’s hard enough to lose a child as it is, without senseless situations like this.”

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

Like others with plots at the ceremony, Ms King said she had no intention of removing items herself.

Comments (5)

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7:19am Tue 29 Jul 14

Evil Flanker says...

Political & Governmental control of a grief process, disgusting, whatever next!

Leave people alone, let them grieve peacfully, desecrating loved ones graves shows just how disrespectful politics really is!
Political & Governmental control of a grief process, disgusting, whatever next! Leave people alone, let them grieve peacfully, desecrating loved ones graves shows just how disrespectful politics really is! Evil Flanker
  • Score: 0

8:46am Tue 29 Jul 14

Woodgnome says...

Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too.
It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules.
Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too. It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules. Woodgnome
  • Score: -1

11:04am Tue 29 Jul 14

Nick&LesHartland says...

Woodgnome wrote:
Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too.
It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules.
do people realize that we are talking about a small windmill here not a wind turbine ,and a small chime ,most graves are no where near houses anyway ,so how on earth can this cause a disturbance to anyone .Most people are lucky, they get to tuck their children in bed at night ,we put flowers on our children ,we are talking about a graveyard who,s wall is a health and safety issue in itself,its held up by metal fencing ,which often falls down ,we cut the grass and hedge ,around our children ,(hedge was cut once last year .The graveyard in cwmbran Old cemetery ,is a public right of way ,there for ,i have picked up used Condoms ,beer cans ,rubbish ,off our childrens graves ,i have told council officials about this before .And most people who visit loved ones at the graveyard do not care about others graves ,only their own ...There are more pressing issues that this in Torfaen im sure . lesley Gronow Hartland
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too. It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules.[/p][/quote]do people realize that we are talking about a small windmill here not a wind turbine ,and a small chime ,most graves are no where near houses anyway ,so how on earth can this cause a disturbance to anyone .Most people are lucky, they get to tuck their children in bed at night ,we put flowers on our children ,we are talking about a graveyard who,s wall is a health and safety issue in itself,its held up by metal fencing ,which often falls down ,we cut the grass and hedge ,around our children ,(hedge was cut once last year .The graveyard in cwmbran Old cemetery ,is a public right of way ,there for ,i have picked up used Condoms ,beer cans ,rubbish ,off our childrens graves ,i have told council officials about this before .And most people who visit loved ones at the graveyard do not care about others graves ,only their own ...There are more pressing issues that this in Torfaen im sure . lesley Gronow Hartland Nick&LesHartland
  • Score: 6

11:53am Tue 29 Jul 14

Evil Flanker says...

Woodgnome wrote:
Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too.
It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules.
Of course it's political, councils just want control of citizens, every aspect of their lives, 'council rules' - Not all rules are right and just, especially rules like this affecting grieving people and their dead loved one who afterall paid for their plot to rest in peace, a spot for the ones they left behind to visit and leave a momento. Really, there are far more important issues in society than a momento on a grave, who is responsible for tackiling it and making policies that councils adhere to ? - Please don't tell me it's not political, whilst local government ministers continue to back such absurdities the real important things get missed completely, what about putting the same resource and energy into mental health, the two stories in the Argus recently highlight this problem, so many more worthy decisions could be made that impact peoples lives in a positive way, 'rule' - makes me laugh.
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Nonsense EF. Politics is just choices. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If the mementoes are allowed in the end - that's a political decision too. It's a no win situation because very many people don't want to see the mementoes and agree with the Council rules.[/p][/quote]Of course it's political, councils just want control of citizens, every aspect of their lives, 'council rules' - Not all rules are right and just, especially rules like this affecting grieving people and their dead loved one who afterall paid for their plot to rest in peace, a spot for the ones they left behind to visit and leave a momento. Really, there are far more important issues in society than a momento on a grave, who is responsible for tackiling it and making policies that councils adhere to ? - Please don't tell me it's not political, whilst local government ministers continue to back such absurdities the real important things get missed completely, what about putting the same resource and energy into mental health, the two stories in the Argus recently highlight this problem, so many more worthy decisions could be made that impact peoples lives in a positive way, 'rule' - makes me laugh. Evil Flanker
  • Score: -3

12:52pm Tue 29 Jul 14

gingertom says...

geraint williams says:

We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to scrap Councillors’ salaries. With cuts to public services and increases in council tax it is right that councillors share the burden by having their salaries scrapped and replaced with payments of reimbursement only, much like magistrates. This will help to make savings in expensive local democracy.

https://www.assembly
wales.org/epetition-
list-of-signatories.
htm?pet_id=1031
geraint williams says: We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to scrap Councillors’ salaries. With cuts to public services and increases in council tax it is right that councillors share the burden by having their salaries scrapped and replaced with payments of reimbursement only, much like magistrates. This will help to make savings in expensive local democracy. https://www.assembly wales.org/epetition- list-of-signatories. htm?pet_id=1031 gingertom
  • Score: 1

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