A BOSTON SPA couple have spoken out over plans to introduce new rules for memorials left in cemeteries.
Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve the proposals on Wednesday, restricting places where grieving families can place tributes.
Jeannie Lumb and Dave Burgess, of Church Street in Boston Spa, have raised concerns about the new measures, which would see designated areas created for memorials.
Jeannie said: “We feel that this move by Leeds City Council is an issue of maintenance.
“To create an area for memorials to be moved to would just create a dumping ground and I would not wish my belongings to be moved from the grave.
“It is the wrong thing to do and we can’t see any value in enforcing these rules.
“Most people stick to the rules. The plot should be there for people to grieve how they wish to whether it is memorials or remembrances.”
The couple launched a campaign in 2007 after being repeatedly told to remove items from the grave of their son Edward, who died in 2005 aged 13. It resulted in a meeting with Church of England officials in York, but she admits she would still make changes to the way the churchyard is run today.
She added: “It is not of our choosing, however, it should be said that it is a very beautiful church yard.”
Leeds City Council launched an inquiry into memorials placed on graves after concerns were raised over the time staff were spending maintaining cemeteries and crematoria. If approved, the recommendations would see dedicated “strewing areas” introduced to allow maintenance around graves to be carried out more easily.
A council spokesman Leeds had previously not to actively enforced the rules and regulations which were created, based on guidelines issued by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM). But a rise in the number of memorials being left had forced it to reconsider.
The spokesman said: “Such enforcement would enable maintenance to be carried out more effectively as machinery would be able to be used to carry out grass cutting without memorials forming obstacles.
“In strewing areas the provision of a designated area would prevent the need for memorials to be moved and carefully replaced each time maintenance takes place.
“Funeral directors would discuss grave conditions with families and ask them to sign their agreement to adhere to them. However, with the need to respect the sensitivities of a bereaved family of paramount importance, it is recognised that the full implications of these rules and regulations may not be fully understood.”
The council said it would give famillies several warnings, and time to remove memorials, before it took them away to storage, after which they would be kept for two months to be claimed before being thrown away.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure, Coun Adam Ogilvie, said: “This is obviously a very sensitive topic and we would like to stress we have thought long and hard before making this decision on enforcement now being necessary.
“Our officers are facing more and more memorials being left and it is proving to be a major problem which is only getting worse in terms of the time it takes them to mow the lawns in our cemeteries and crematoria.
“While sterner action was suggested by the scrutiny board, we have decided to take a sensitive approach.
“Applying these enforcement rules on new graves and introducing communal strewing areas would help resolve the problem and this would be communicated in a respectful way so that everyone is fully aware of the position.”
Wetherby Town Council said there would be no changes at its Hallfield Lane cemetery as a result of Leeds City Council’s proposal.
Clerk Barbara Ball said: “We have rules and regulations already but it is very much a village feel to our cemetery.
“We all people to put things on grave as part of the grieving period. After a period of time they would then fall in line with the regulations.
“We would not have areas where people could leave items as that would make the cemetery look tacky and untidy.”
l Have you experienced problems with graveside memorials? What are your views on the new enforcement? Tell the Wetherby News at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at 9 Westgate, Wetherby, LS22 6LL.