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Cemetery families lobby Preston councillors about enforcement action

Posted on - 10th September, 2016 - 12:17pm | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, News, People, Ribbleton
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Preston councillors from the wards bordering the cemetery at the public meeting

A review of Preston Cemetery’s rules is to take place following a petition by families who look after loved one’s graves.

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The petition follows a number of letters received by the families asking for the removal of memorials as they contravened the rules of the cemetery.

An appeal was sparked by the families who had received letters from Preston City Council requesting them to remove memorials over-stepping the 18-inch rule mark.

A public meeting was held on Thursday 8 September, organised by Patricia Varty, at St Mary Magdalene’s Church Hall.

Read more: Family of murdered Jon-Jo Highton told to remove tributes from his grave

The meeting invited the 79 families affected to discuss with councillors the problems they faced in looking after the graves.

A list of concerns was raised at the meeting including the lack of maintenance to certain graves, the destruction that maintenance workers have allegedly caused and the council’s limited budget.

Ms Varty, who is behind the petition, said: “The letters were totally insensitive. This is a passionate thing we are all fighting for.”

Jon-Jo

The grave of murder victim Jon-Jo Highton was one of those to contravene the Cemetery rules according to the letters

A total of 2,774 signatures have supported the paper petition so far, with only 1300 signatures being needed to take the case in front of the full council.

The petition requests a review of the Cemetery’s rules which currently limit the size and nature of headstones and memorials.

The Old Preston Cemetery was built in 1855 and the new section was built in 1920s, with more than 50,000 graves.

A representative from Preston City Council’s environmental department did not attend the meeting.

Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena said: “The same thing happened in 2009, this isn’t the first time.

“We were not aware that any letters had gone out until we received complaints.”

Many families raised the point that they save the council money by maintaining and looking after their graves and that the removal of memorials by maintenance workers is disrespectful.

One family member said during the meeting: “When rules aren’t enforced, they go into disarray, and then become defunct.”

The outcome of the meeting was that Ms Varty, along with family representatives would meet with council officers to put forward suggestions whilst the council’s cemetery rules are under review.

Have you signed the petition? What do you think about the review? Let us know in the comments below

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