Man denied dying wish over health and safety

17th Feb 2011'Gail Wilkes was told the day before her dad's funeral that he coulsn't be buried in the double plot with her mum because of health and safety reasons (the water table was too high and the grave could collapse). It was high when her mum was buried four years ago, but they worked around it. Apparently the rules changed two years ago.' ''Picture: MATTHEW PAGE

17th Feb 2011'Gail Wilkes was told the day before her dad's funeral that he coulsn't be buried in the double plot with her mum because of health and safety reasons (the water table was too high and the grave could collapse). It was high when her mum was buried four years ago, but they worked around it. Apparently the rules changed two years ago.' ''Picture: MATTHEW PAGE

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A GRIEVING daughter could not grant her dad’s dying wish because the council would not bury him in the same grave as her mother.

Gail Wilkes was horrified to receive a call telling her this, the day before her dad, Tommy, was due to be laid to rest at Alverthorpe cemetery on Wednesday.

She said: “They said the water table was too high and that they couldn’t bury him with my mum for health and safety reasons, but the same problem existed when mum died four years ago and they worked around it.

“The lady said the rules had changed two years ago, but why didn’t they tell us then instead of leaving it until the day before the funeral.

“It’s so insensitive when you’re upset enough about having lost someone you love, to then have this to deal with.”

Mr Wilkes, who lost his battle with cancer on February 6, had to be buried in a plot about 20ft away from his wife Barbara.

His daughter, of Whinney Moor Avenue, Lupset, said: “I couldn’t grant him his last wish and I’m devastated. Dad wanted to be buried with mum.

“I asked if we could exhume mum and was told no because you have to get permission through the courts, which can take years. They said we could have had him cremated and put his ashes in the grave, but the cremation couldn’t have taken place until next week and the funeral had already been advertised, and dad didn’t want to be cremated anyway.”

Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s service director for cleaner and greener, said graves can collapse due to ground conditions that are affected by a variety of factors. He added: “We are extremely sorry for the distress caused at this already difficult time. When staff went to prepare the grave for the funeral it collapsed and became unsafe.

“This is a very rare occurrence and we are working with the family to try and support them in any way we can.”

He said nobody else that had a burial scheduled at this site had been affected.