Jean White lost her husband Peter in September 2018 and tends to his grave at Eckington Cemetery regularly – placing artificial grass, solar lights, decorative pots and a small fence close to his headstone.
Just seven months after burying Peter, the 71-year-old was shocked to receive a letter from Eckington Parish Council, which manages and maintains the cemetery, requesting that the pots and other items be removed ‘within 14 days’.
Having fought the ruling for over a year, Mrs White has now been given until July 15 to remove the items – but says she will not comply.
She said: “We had a few meetings and they said they were bringing an expert in to look at what was happening. They were supposed to let me know the outcome and I've waited until now but I’ve had another letter.”
Mrs White continued: “They’ll not be able to take the items, I’ll sit up there for 24 hours a day. They’re not touching his grave and if it does come to that I want him exhuming. If I knew this was going to happen I would have never buried him there.”
Eckington Parish Council argues that artificial grass, kerbstones, and surrounds, are not permitted on the plots to allow the cemetery team to maintain the lawned area.
And, while items including monuments and vases are sometimes allowed, approval by the cemetery superintendent must be sought first.
Coun Carolyn Renwick, Chairman of Eckington Parish Council, said: “The council has been reviewing its policies following concerns by Mrs White, however, the new burial sections at Eckington Cemetery are currently lawn areas and our regulations limit other items allowed to be placed on the graves.
“This policy ensures a higher standard of maintenance can be achieved throughout the cemetery. We have advised Mrs White of this and have offered to discuss the matter further to find out whether we are able to come to any agreement on a way forward.”