Holbeach Parish Council has bowed to public pressure by agreeing to look at its rules on memorials at gravesides after an outcry from bereaved parents.
Talks about setting up a working party of parish councillors to look at the possibility of updating guidelines on memorials and tributes by gravesides are set to take place next month.
It’s only a small group of people that have come to this decision without asking or considering what families thoughtHolbeach mum Becci Holden
This follows a parish council meeting on Monday where parents shared their concerns about a council notice warning that “excess articles not permitted around grave spaces” would be removed.
Holbeach mum Becci Holden, whose daughter Millie died on July 2013 and was laid to rest in the town’s Hallgate Cemetery, set up an online petition calling for the removal of tributes to stop and more than 1,100 people have signed it.
In the petition, Becci said: “Holbeach Parish Council had placed on several graves, including Millie’s, a note that basically read ‘any excessive or inappropriate items will be removed’.
“When we spoke to the council, they said that all the graves will only be allowed (to have) flowers and the headstone (on them).
“People with have their own opinions, however, it’s only a small group of people that have come to this decision without asking or considering what families thought before they came to this decision.
“We are starting this petition to show that it is unacceptable and people choose to grieve in their own way, whether it’s by putting solar lights down there or teddys.”
The council’s controversial stance on memorials at gravesides came about after a meeting last April when members agreed to write to bereaved families about “excessive ornaments, toys and benches being placed on and near graves at Hallgate Cemetery” which went against its rules.
Councillors had to deal with the issue again last December after it had a letter from an unhappy widower whose late wife’s memorial vase was continually moved from where he had put it.
Cemeteries committee chairman Coun Martin Howard said: “It’s a very difficult subject because people mourn in different ways and for those parents who lose their children, I can’t imagine what grief they went through because parents aren’t supposed to be burying their children.
“But whether we like them or whether we don’t, we make rules and we have to stand by them.
“What we did think was, however, that as our cemetery rules date from 1973 and times have now changed, we thought that the rules should be revisited and brought up to date.
“That’s what we proposed to do and, at the next council meeting in March, I’d imagine that a working party would be set up to look at that.”
Two weeks ago, the Guardian reported on the experience of Sharon Rudd of Holbeach who lost her 16-month-old son Kyle in September 2003.
Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Sharon said: “My family and I put little things on Kyle’s grave when it’s his birthday and at other times like Christmas.
“But then they are taken off so I want the parish council to look at the rules and let parents put things on the graves of their little children so they can grieve for them.”