A MOTION to allow grieving families to set up benches in Caerphilly borough cemeteries has been quashed.

Before 2008 families were able to set up a bench in memory of loved ones for a one-off fee of £500. Following the policy change in 2008, a number of metal benches have been put in cemeteries in the borough and families are able to have memorial plaques on these benches - but they are not allowed to place their own benches.

At a meeting of Caerphilly County Borough Council last week, Plaid Cymru councillor John Roberts presented a motion calling for this rule to be overturned.

Cllr Roberts said: “This ban unjustly deprives individuals, families and friends from paying their full respects and being able to remember as they would like, a departed loved one.

“In new parts of cemeteries where graves are now being placed people are being discriminated against, particularly some of our more vulnerable people who cannot stand for very long. This might well prevent some people from even visiting the final resting place of their nearest and dearest.”

During the council meeting, he acknowledged how the cemeteries were well kept but said: “We’re looking at ways of helping a minority group of people. Not every family wants to organise a bench, let’s face it, not every family can afford to. But some would like it done and some of them are elderly and others have difficulty standing up for a long time.

“They could do with some form of seating close to the reason they are in that cemetery. Some cemeteries have got a good number of benches, some have less. We could help a few people out.”

But chairman of the council's scrutiny committee for environment and sustainability Cllr David Tudor Davies said the original policy had been put in place "to maintain all the cemeteries to the quality as Cllr Roberts mentioned, which has stood for 13 years".

“The officers have indicated that the quality of the cemeteries is better maintained and more acceptable to the public who use it,” the Labour councillor said.


Plaid councillor Colin Mann suggested applications for benches could be decided on a case-by-case basis, adding: “We are talking about bereaved people who are very vulnerable".

He added: “It is very difficult for people to spend time near the grave of their next of kin if there is nowhere to sit down.”

But Labour's Cllr Sean Morgan pointed out some cemeteries are oversaturated with benches, with 83 in Bedwellty alone.

The motion, which was seconded by Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Elsbury, was ultimately defeated by 38 votes to 22.

A council spokesman also said that they place strategic benches where people can place plaques if necessary and also have the option to plant memorial trees, but it is not possible to have a bench near every grave.