Baby grave rules misery

Katy Walker, of Balby, at her late son Cole James Walker's graveside at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Katy Walker, of Balby, at her late son Cole James Walker's graveside at Rose Hill Cemetery.
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BEREAVED mums whose children died as babies are demanding Doncaster Council ditches ‘insensitive’ graveside rules.

Campaigners fighting cemetery regulations, which limit the items they can leave on their children’s graves and restrict kerbstones around them, claim the rules are ‘health and safety gone mad’.

Parents who tend their youngsters’ graves at Rose Hill Cemetery recently received letters warning them staff will remove items from graves if families did not take them away themselves.

Now an online petition has been set up calling for the council to allow parents to decorate their babies’ graves as they choose.

Katy Walker, from Albany Road, Balby, lost her son Cole James aged just five weeks and two days, in July 2009. Cole had been born 17 weeks early.

The 27-year-old was distraught to get the letter telling her to remove ornaments from his grave, and said many bereaved parents feel the same.

“They told me the edging around the grave has to go because it is a trip hazard, that I can’t have windmills, and I can’t have objects over a certain height.

“They have obviously never lost a baby or they wouldn’t be doing this. There is nowhere else we can go to bury our children. If there

are rules about this, what parent is going to be paying much attention to them when they are burying their child?

“I go there two or three times a week, it is where I find my comfort and talk to him. There is nothing else I can do. It is heartbreaking. I was astounded when I opened the letter that they could be so insensitive.”

Cheryl Lee, aged 30, of Smith Street, Balby, lost her daughter Sienna Mae in January this year. She was just 16 days old.

Cheryl said: “They have told me they will rip up kerbs. They are taking things without consent.

“How are they dangerous? People can see these things are there so why would they trip over them? There are so many beautiful gardens, and they are going to take them away. It is health and safety gone mad.

“If they take things from the graves, it will be like being bereaved all over again for me. It is so upsetting.”

Cheryl said she was also unhappy to be told that, if she wanted to put a bench near the grave, she would have to pay £950 to buy one from the council.

She has started a collection to raise money at the Cost Cutter shop on Warmsworth Road, Balby. She has also set up a Facebook campaign called Save Our Angel Gardens.

The council’s director of regeneration and environment, Peter Dale, said over a number of years there had been an increase in the number and types of memorabilia being placed on graves and plots.

He said: “While these can be a comforting way to remember family members and friends, they can cause problems for others using the grounds.

“In recent instances bereaved families and workmen have been injured from memorabilia left on graves, therefore Doncaster Council has reviewed its policy.

“As part of the review, the council has created ‘memorabilia guidelines’ to enable bereaved families to place items on graves and plots that can hopefully accommodate the needs of the bereaved without risk to others visiting the cemetery. “Seats and benches within the cemetery and crematorium are provided by the council to ensure they are well maintained and in good repair.

“Unfortunately we can not allow members of the public to place their own seats in the grounds - should they be neglected and become unsafe this could result in accidents occurring.

“The lease costs may appear high, but this is for a 10-year lease period and does cover the cost of the plaque, maintenance costs and a replacement should it be required.”