Grieving relatives dragged from cemetery
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Dramatic footage shows the grieving relatives at Mill Lane Cemetary in Stockport, Greater Manchester, lambast workers as they access the tributes in small gardens built beside graves. Clashes became so heated police were called. The council had asked families last month to clear the trinkets because they were infringing on the “lawned cemetery”.
Kelly Pullen, who has multiple family members buried at the cemetery, said: “I’m distraught that they’re even doing this just before Christmas.
“We own rights to those graves, we paid for our loved ones to be buried so we should be able to do what we want with them.
“This is a place that brings us comfort, we’ve decorated the graves of our loved ones and they’re taking that away.
“It’s the fact about all the police presence, have they not got anything else to do?”
No arrests were made at the cemetary, reports Manchester Evening News, but mourners described the situation – weeks before Christmas – as “absolutely horrendous”.
Gaynor Bradburn whose mother has been buried in the cemetery for 14 years, said: “I’ve been sent a live video and it’s absolutely horrendous. It’s heartbreaking, they’re not letting anybody in and everybody’s obviously very very angry and upset.
“It’s absolutely disgusting that they can do that. To have the amount of police there is unbelievable, it’s absolutely horrendous.”
Some mourners were allowed inside to collect their belongings yesterday, but clashes between the two groups meant access was restricted.
At one point, a grieving father had to be restrained by police officers in a heated exchange.
Stockport Council, which has no overall political control since Liberal Democrats lost it in 2011, defended the action, saying families had been asked to remove the gardens previously.
Councillor Sheila Bailey, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport, said: “We understand that all families have their own unique ways of remembering their loved ones and that personal items and ornaments can hold dear memories. Each grave has an area around the headstone where such items can be placed. Over recent years however we have seen larger tributes, gardens or borders established at some graves in Mill Lane Cemetery.
“Many people have told us that they chose Mill Lane as the final resting place for their loved one specifically because it was a lawned cemetery, but the increasing number of gardens or tributes built out in front of graves means that this is no longer the case. The original design of Mill Lane as a lawned cemetery is explained when a family is considering Mill Lane Cemetery and when a grave is purchased.
“We understand that this is an extremely emotive issue and we have been in contact with grave owners since 2018, when they were written to, to ask that gardens, borders or ornaments be removed. Many people responded to this request and since then we have sought to engage with individual grave owners where we know gardens or larger displays have been placed. We have also spoken to a wide range of groups and individuals who visit Mill Lane.
“We subsequently wrote to a number of grave owners in June and October of this year who had not yet removed borders or ornaments and tributes and some have since been cleared. We have carefully considered all the views presented to us over recent years and it is clear that there is an overwhelming desire that Mill Lane Cemetery must continue to be a lawned cemetery as it was originally designed to be.
“The council want to ensure that Mill Lane will continue to be maintained as a lawned cemetery in line with the wishes of the majority of people who visit and are pleased that people have removed items today and thank them for their cooperation. We will be removing the remaining items in the near future. The council is determined to ensure that the rules which are followed by the vast majority of grave owners are followed by everyone.”
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