IT LOOKED LIKE VANDALISM: Families’ anger at council’s ‘disgraceful’ removal of grave items

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Grieving families have hit out at Amber Valley Council for ‘vandalising’ the resting places of their loved ones.

Fences, astro turf, fences and glass ornaments were removed from plots at Marlpool Cemetery after the council deemed them unsuitable.

Rachel Blackman, whose daughter Charlotte is buried at the cemetery, said: “We were made aware in June that Amber Valley cemeteries department was asking for removal of fence, astro turf and ornaments from graves due mostly to facilitate the cutting of grass around graves and to prevent accidents to council workers. Many families with garden graves wrote, rang and emailed the department to be told ‘Its the rules so comply.’

“When I visited my daughter’s grave I was met with what looked liked vandalism. It is disgraceful behaviour from the council.”

Julie Newman, whose mother is also buried there added: “The council has shown a total lack of respect for the graves of people’s loved ones.

My family purchased a garden permit that allowed us to put flowers and ornaments at my mum’s grave. We also put up a small decorative fence around the permitted garden which was inoffensive and not causing any harm to anyone.

Unfortunately, council workers have gone to the cemetery and removed all the fences. They did not do this in a respectful way, they literally ripping out the fences and any ornaments were pushed into piles, many being broken.”

A spokesman for Amber Valley Borough Council said: “The council wrote to relatives of people with graves in Marlpool Cemetery on two separate occasions and politely asked that the items that do not comply with the guidelines be removed. We only took the step of removing the items as a last resort.

“All of the items were carefully removed, wrapped in bubble wrap where appropriate, inventoried and are being stored for delivery to the relatives. A further letter was hand delivered, informing the relatives that the items had been removed and how to arrange for them to be delivered.

“Where artificial turf has been removed the areas have been temporarily soiled and seeded, pending delivery of new turf.

“We fully appreciate what a sensitive issue this is for relatives and have made every effort to deal with it as sympathetically as possible, while still making sure the cemetery guidelines are properly observed.”