Market Drayton council branded 'heartless' over graves row
Market Drayton Town Council has been branded "heartless" after it warned visitors to the town's cemetery to keep grassed areas clear or have items removed.
The council is warning residents to remove items that are not placed on plinths in the cemetery off Cemetery Road by December 2, after which staff will enforce an old rule under its cemetery regulations and remove them.
It said the rule would be enforced over concerns that tributes are making access difficult for some people and causing trouble for those who maintain the area.
Town clerk Julie Jones said: "The town council have received a complaint about the growing number of items being left on the grass and causing people with poor mobility trouble when they are visiting graves.
"This has been a growing concern for the council over a number of years and although we are sympathetic to grieving relatives the sheer amount of items now on the lawned area of the cemetery is making maintaining the cemetery increasingly difficult so it was decided that section 18 of the cemetery rules and regulations will be enforced."
The relevant rule says that no "articles" will be allowed on grassed areas away from plinths, but that "a degree of flexibility" will be used between burials and the installation of headstones, up to six weeks.
It says: "All articles will be restricted to the plinth. No glass articles will be permitted and the town council reserve the right to remove any articles it considers inappropriate.
"Constant white lights will be allowed on the plinth."
Stacey Bradshaw, 24, has lived in the town since she was young and visits the graves of family members, including her son Freddie Jex, regularly.
Freddie died aged five weeks in March 2017 after being born prematurely.
Stacey condemned the decision, saying that the council is trying to "fix a problem that doesn't exist".
"What they are putting in place is heartless, it is morally wrong and is going to cause upset where not necessary," she said.
"I visit the cemetery very regularly, having a number of family members buried there. Not once have I been up there and come across any items blocking the path or the little walkways between the graves.
"The grass that isn’t cut by the council is done so by loved ones. The majority of graves up the cemetery with decorative items on the grass, within the plot may I add, are those in the baby and children’s section, my son's being one of them.
"There are also numerous graves plotted around that have items placed on the grass that are beautifully kept and very well looked after by family.
"The council are trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. All they will be doing is making things more difficult than they already are for people with loved ones buried in the cemetery by not allowing them to place what they wish on families' graves.
"I for one won’t be removing anything off my son's grave to please the council, causing myself upset in the process. A lot of people I’m sure of will also leave their loved ones' resting places exactly how they are.
"What are the council going to do exactly? Walk around the cemetery desecrating hundreds of graves? Here’s hoping they really aren’t that heartless."
Another Market Drayton resident, Sheila Morris, said: "Both my parents are buried in this cemetery. I feel for all those people who have children buried there. It’s the only place they can go to help them find some kind of comfort and place items around their child’s resting place.
"Please leave our loved ones' heavenly gardens alone."
Paula Shufflebotham also expressed concern. She said: "I have a few close family members buried at the cemetery and it is very upsetting about having to remove items from their graves, being told we are limited to how we place birthday, remembrance and Christmas wreaths, as this is all we can do for our loved ones."