Grave orders upset families

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Letters sent out to families in Fleetwood have caused anguish after they were ordered to remove memorabilia from the graves of loved ones.

Residents have been reminded of rules for Fleetwood Cemetery which state that anyone whose loved ones died after 2009 would have to keep 15 inches at the front of the grave clear of items such as small fences, pots, pictures and windchimes.

Julie McCarthy at her fathers grave

Julie McCarthy at her fathers grave

But families say it is unfair to discriminate against people whose relatives have died after the cut-off point.

Wyre Council, which runs Fleetwood cemetery, says the rules were brought in to ensure staff who regularly work in the cemetery, including gardeners, monumental masons and funereal directors, can go about their work safely without being impeded by items covering the grave areas.

The letters were sent out last week.

Julie McCarthy, 51, of Duddon Avenue, Fleetwood, said; “My father, John Webster, died in November 2015 and we have put a few things on the grave to pay our own respects. They are only small items.

Last week we received this letter. To be now told we have to remove all these things is really upsetting, it seems to discriminate against us just because dad died after 2009

“Last week we received this letter. To be now told we have to remove all these things is really upsetting, it seems to discriminate against us just because dad died after 2009.

“My father was a fisherman in Fleetwood who worked hard for our family – now we can’t even put a few things on the grave.”

The items on John’s grave are small and poignant reminders of his career as a fishermen, which was cut shut after a tragic accident at work.

They include a small model of a fishing boat, the figure of a fisherman, two little lighthouses and a small seagull.

Julie added: “We have been told we have until next Monday to remove them, or they will be removed, yet other graves nearby have much bigger objects on them but are allowed to stay.”

Julie, said she had made arrangements to discuss the issue with the council this week.

Wyre Council released the following statement: “In February 2009 we introduced a policy restricting memorabilia to the headstone plinth as a result of an increase in varying items being placed on graves.

“This causes problems in managing the cemeteries, which are lawned, particularly when burials take place, and maintaining the grounds.”

A spokeswoman added: “We do understand that this is a sensitive issue and for that reason we give families plenty of opportunity to remove items. The council does all it can to keep cemeteries attractive and peaceful places to visit but memorabilia on the graves can make it difficult to maintain the grounds.”

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