Family upset as council moves flowers and bans ornaments in cemetery 'tidy-up'
RELATIVES of people laid to rest at Mayshill Cemetery say they are upset after flowers were removed from graves by South Gloucestershire Council staff.
The council says it is starting a "tidy-up" of the cemetery off Badminton Road, between Coalpit Heath and Yate, in November and has sent letters to families telling them to limit the number and type of tributes which can be left.
The letters inform them that they are leaving too many flowers, that gravel paths must be left clear and that they must not add lights, balloons or toys.
Additional flowers will be allowed on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, for birthdays, at Christmas, for Valentine's Day and on Anniversaries. They will be cleared away after three weeks, or earlier if they have decayed.
Notices, below, have also been posted at the cemetery warning that glass vases, flower pots and ornaments other than those which are part of a gravestone are not allowed.
Sandra Turner has visited the cemetery every day for the last 26 years to visit her parents’ and her sons’ graves. She is upset that flowers were removed and the council took photos, which were then sent with a letter to her sister Wendy Mobley.
Sandra said: “It wasn’t very nice to open their letter with photos of mum and dad’s adjoining headstones. The flowers had been moved around to reveal their names, when the plot number on the back would have told them who it belonged to. They should have asked to meet us at the cemetery to talk about it.
“Nobody is allowed to put anything at all on the gravel. A bit on your headstone but only at the back."
Sandra says they were told extra ornaments could obstruct other visitors to the cemetery but she said: "I’ve never blocked a walkway in my life. I’m not blocking anybody; I’m not obstructing anybody.”
Families have been told that if graves aren’t tided by the end of October the council will remove any additional items. Glass vases have already been removed from graves and put in a box for people to collect.
The council’s cemetery team has told Wendy and Sandra that the regulations have been in place since the cemetery was first opened in 1973. But Wendy says she has never seen a copy, and she believes she isn’t the only one.
Wendy said: “There’s been no transition period. It’s gone from what’s been acceptable for years to suddenly it’s become a safety hazard. Now they need people to be able to walk around the graves. It’s fine if everyone knows those rules but they don’t. The upset it’s caused is so unnecessary.”
Wendy and Sandra’s request for a face-to-face meeting has been refused.
A council spokesperson said: “We apologise for any distress that this letter may have caused.
"We are undertaking a general tidy-up at Mayshill Cemetery, as we want to maintain a high standard where people are happy for their relatives to be buried. It is important to us to find the balance, where we are sensitive to the families involved whilst being respectful to those who are buried there.
“We will be starting the tidy-up in November and we have already put signs up in all of our cemeteries, reminding people of the regulations.”