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Petition handed in as Preston Cemetery rules row continues

Posted on - 9th November, 2016 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - News, Politics, Preston Council, Ribbleton
Patricia Varty handing in the petition at the Town Hall, flanked by Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena and deputy leader councillor Jon Swindells

Patricia Varty handing in the petition at the Town Hall, flanked by Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena and deputy leader councillor Jon Swindells

Pressure on Preston Council to take a different approach to policing rules about graves in Preston is growing.

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A petition of more than 4,500 names has been presented at the Town Hall by campaigners who say they should be left in peace to pay tribute to their loved ones.

Letters from the council throughout the summer warning plot holders at Preston Cemetery in Ribbleton they had breached Cemetery regulations were met with anger.

The issue stems from memorials being left on grave plots and going beyond the allotted space, as set out in council regulations.

Read more: Preston Cemetery targeted again by fly-tippers

But campaigners say the council is being overzealous and heavy-handed in policing these rules.

Patricia Varty, who is leading the campaign, set up a petition calling for the rule changes and for the issue to be discussed by a full council meeting.

She said: “We are not going to take this. The council need to listen to what we’re saying.

“All of us, the 80 affected, just want to be able to remember our loved ones.”

Jon-Jo's grave at Ribbleton Cemetery

Jon-Jo’s grave at Ribbleton Cemetery is one of those in the original 80 graves affected

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

Mrs Varty accused the council of going back on its promise not to send anymore letters to the 80 plots affected until it had completed its review and consultation on the rules.

She said: “I was contacted by a gentlemen whose father passed away in April this year. He wasn’t in the original 80 plots but he also wasn’t a new burial.

“He received a letter on 1 November. So I want to know why this letter was sent and how can we trust the council if they break their word?”

A letter sent out on 1 November, the council say it's about a new memorial placed on a grave

A letter sent out on 1 November, the council say it’s about a new memorial placed on a grave

A spokesman for the council says the letters are about graves which have seen memorials added to them. Something Mrs Varty disputes on behalf of the graveholder.

A statement from Preston City Council said: “Rules about the size, type and nature of memorials on graves at Preston Cemetery are currently being reviewed. The review will include a full public consultation on what people want and expect at Preston’s Cemetery.

“The review follows public concern expressed about the enforcement of existing rules at the Cemetery. The Council has already met with a number of concerned residents and agreed that there will be no enforcement action for current memorials until this review has been completed.

“However, the Council does not expect that while this review is ongoing that new memorials will continue to be created in breach of the current cemetery rules. Where this occurs we will write to holders of grave leases to request that they remove such memorials.

“When a grave lease is purchased the Council makes it clear what is allowed to be placed on that grave and that permission must be granted before any memorialisation is put in place. We hope that the public will respect the rules for the benefit of all the Cemetery’s users while the review takes place.”

Watch a report on the cemetery issue on That’s Lancashire

The issue is now due to be debated at a full council meeting, once deputy leader councillor John Swindells considers the petition.

What do you think about the issue? Are you one of the families affected? Did you sign the petition? Let us know in the comments below

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