5.9k Share this
Angry scenes broke out in a cemetery yesterday after grieving family members clashed with police and council officers over the removal of garden tributes around headstones.
A large police presence converged at Mill Lane Cemetery in Stockport, Greater Manchester, on Wednesday morning as a small crowd of angry grave-owners gathered at the gate to the cemetery, remonstrating with enforcement officers.
Three years ago, Stockport Council wrote to plot owners and asked them to remove large garden tributes and floral decorations which surrounded graves as they were an obstacle in maintaining the lawn in the cemetery.
Last month, the local authority insisted that plot owners were already signed up to its policy around large garden tributes and it was now acting within its rights by removing them. They added that the vast majority of bereaved families adhere to the rules already.
But distraught residents argued that some of the gardens at Mill Lane Cemetery had been well cared for for more than a decade.
Kelly Pullen from Cheadle said: ‘We own rights to those graves, we paid for our loved ones to be buried so we should be able to do what we want with them.
At one point, a man was restrained by police officers as tempers flared at Mill Lane Cemetery in Stockport, Cheshire
A small crowd of angry grave-owners gathered at the gates of the cemetery, remonstrating with enforcement officers over the removal of garden decorations around headstones
‘This is a place that brings us comfort, we’ve decorated the graves of our loved ones and they’re taking that away. It’s the fact about all the police presence, have they not got anything else to do?’
Another family member, Gaynor Bradburn whose mother has been buried in the cemetery for 14 years, described the incident as ‘horrendous’.
She said: ‘I’ve been sent a live video and it’s absolutely horrendous. It’s heart-breaking, they’re not letting anybody in and everybody’s obviously very very angry and upset.
‘It’s absolutely disgusting that they can do that. To have the amount of police there is unbelievable, it’s absolutely horrendous.’
During the protest, some people were allowed inside to collect their belongings, but clashes continued. At one point, a grieving father had to be restrained by police officers in a heated exchange.
No arrests were made by the police present, a Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said. Council bosses defended the action, saying families had been asked to remove the gardens previously.
”This is a place that brings us comfort, we’ve decorated the graves of our loved ones and they’re taking that away,’ said Kelly Pullen, from Cheadle
Some of the gardens at Mill Lane Cemetery have been well looked after for more than a decade. The council insists they are asking the owners to follow a policy they signed up to.
‘We own rights to those graves, we paid for our loved ones to be buried so we should be able to do what we want with them,’ said one relative
There was a large police presence at Mill Lane Cemetery on Wednesday morning as angry family members protested the removal of tributes at gravestones
Councillor Sheila Bailey, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport, said: ‘We understand that all families have their own unique ways of remembering their loved ones and that personal items and ornaments can hold dear memories.
‘Each grave has an area around the headstone where such items can be placed. Over recent years however we have seen larger tributes, gardens or borders established at some graves in Mill Lane Cemetery.
‘Many people have told us that they chose Mill Lane as the final resting place for their loved one specifically because it was a lawned cemetery, but the increasing number of gardens or tributes built out in front of graves means that this is no longer the case.
‘We understand that all families have their own unique ways of remembering their loved ones and that personal items and ornaments can hold dear memories,’ said Councillor Sheila Bailey
‘Each grave has an area around the headstone where such items can be placed. Over recent years however we have seen larger tributes, gardens or borders established at some graves in Mill Lane Cemetery’
Despite the clashes, no arrests were made and Stockport Council stood by its decision regarding the garden decorations – which it says are an obstacle to lawn mowing
A large police presence attended the cemetery as emotions ran high over the removal of garden tributes
‘The original design of Mill Lane as a lawned cemetery is explained when a family is considering Mill Lane Cemetery and when a grave is purchased.
‘We understand that this is an extremely emotive issue and we have been in contact with grave owners since 2018, when they were written to, to ask that gardens, borders or ornaments be removed.
‘Many people responded to this request and since then we have sought to engage with individual grave owners where we know gardens or larger displays have been placed. We have also spoken to a wide range of groups and individuals who visit Mill Lane.
‘We subsequently wrote to a number of grave owners in June and October of this year who had not yet removed borders or ornaments and tributes and some have since been cleared.
‘We have carefully considered all the views presented to us over recent years and it is clear that there is an overwhelming desire that Mill Lane Cemetery must continue to be a lawned cemetery as it was originally designed to be.
‘The council want to ensure that Mill Lane will continue to be maintained as a lawned cemetery in line with the wishes of the majority of people who visit and are pleased that people have removed items today and thank them for their cooperation. We will be removing the remaining items in the near future.
‘The council is determined to ensure that the rules which are followed by the vast majority of grave owners are followed by everyone.’
Source: Daily Mail