Rules forbidding grave goods at a cemetery will be more strongly enforced.
More items are now being placed on graves in Sandy Cemetery, a practice which is against the council’s burial regulations, which allow only a temporary marker, headstone or vase.
On Monday Sandy Town Council’s community services and environment committee debated whether to relax the rules or whether to enforce them properly, finally voting for the latter.
Town clerk Delia Shephard said: “Floral tributes are all that’s allowed. The flowers on the actual grave are only allowed immediately after the burial because of mowing the lawn but in practice this isn’t what’s happening.
“We have not enforced it as much as is ideal. It’s very difficult because we have a lot of child burials in the cemetery. You would have to have a heart of stone to stop a grieving sibling putting a toy on the grave of a baby.”
She explained that grave goods such as solar lights that are sunk into the ground make it more difficult and expensive to mow the grass and maintain the cemetery.
Additionally, many people do not like grave goods.
Councillor Martin Pettitt said: “Many mourners appreciate the regulations. There’s a balance to be struck. I think it’s always been an area in which Sandy has taken great pride.”
Grave goods make the cemetery look unkempt in windy weather, he said but he added: “Habits have changed over the years. Who are we to be critical of what people do in times when they are mourning.
“We have to be particularly sensitive when you are talking about siblings and parents of children who have died.”
Councillor Marion Runchman said that the items look tatty after they have been on the graves for a while.
Councillor Jafor Ali said: “I know it’s difficult for the people who have lost their loved ones. When it comes to funerals and burials and graveyards I always like to be strict. We’ve got to have the rules.
“As a Muslim I always look to keep cemeteries at top notch. It’s got to be a rule for everyone.”
Before removing items the council leaves written notice on the grave and, if possible, writes to the owner.
They decided to enforce the rules more strictly and to make it clearer to the public why this is necessary.
A final decision will be made at the next full council meeting.
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Weather for Biggleswade
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west