'HEARTLESS': Derbyshire council bans memorials from graves

Killamarsh residents - including Margaret Bedford, left - say North East Derbyshire District Council is 'heartless' for telling them to remove personal items from the graves of their loved ones. Pictures by Anne Shelley.
Killamarsh residents - including Margaret Bedford, left - say North East Derbyshire District Council is 'heartless' for telling them to remove personal items from the graves of their loved ones. Pictures by Anne Shelley.

Grieving families are heartbroken after being told to remove memorials from their loved one's graves.

Relatives of people buried at Killamarsh Cemetery have received a 'cold' letter from North East Derbyshire District Council saying items like pots, lights and trinkets are no longer allowed at their final resting places.

Mick Bailey at the grave of his mother, Edith Goodwin, in Killamarsh Cemetery.

Mick Bailey at the grave of his mother, Edith Goodwin, in Killamarsh Cemetery.

The letter, titled 'breach of rules and regulations', states: "We acknowledge that this is a very sensitive matter so we respectfully ask that any unauthorised items be removed from the grave as soon as possible."

It adds that items will be taken away by the authority and placed in storage to be collected if they are not removed within two months.

Margaret Bedford, 60, of Nethergreen Avenue, Killamarsh, received the letter on August 8 - exactly 11 years since her 23-year-old son, Micheal Bedford, died in a car crash.

"It was such a cold letter to receive on such a difficult day," said Mrs Bedford.

Lisa Fletcher at the grave of her baby girl, Lillie-Grace, in Killamarsh Cemetery.

Lisa Fletcher at the grave of her baby girl, Lillie-Grace, in Killamarsh Cemetery.

"There are a lot of families very upset about this and we refuse to remove these items.

"There's a pot with beautiful flowers in front of Micheal's grave which they don't want there - but what is wrong with it?

"It isn't cheap, it isn't nasty - it is tasteful and solid.

"We're doing nothing wrong.

"We're paying tribute to our loved ones but the council is being completely heartless.

"I hope they change their mind."

Remembering her late son, Mrs Bedford added: "He was a fantastic lad.

"He was a big, loveable rogue.

"He had a heart of gold.

"He was full of life and he'd do anything for anyone."

Council insists: 'We don't want to cause upset'

A district council spokesman said: "Together with Killamarsh Parish Council, we took the decision to write to contacts due to the large amount of unauthorised items which have been placed on graves within the cemetery.

"These unauthorised items are proving to hinder our responsibility of maintaining the cemetery to an acceptable standard.

"We are unable to cut the grass around graves.

"This decision was not taken lightly due to the sensitivity of the request to remove such items.

"It is not our intention to cause upset to bereaved families."