‘Council’s grave policy is almost like vandalism’

Kay Robinson, whose parents are buried at Normanton, thinks the practice is disrespectful and unfair. Picture Scott Merrylees
Kay Robinson, whose parents are buried at Normanton, thinks the practice is disrespectful and unfair. Picture Scott Merrylees

A woman who went to visit her parents’ grave was shocked to find the headstone had been laid flat.

Kay Robinson said several stones had been laid down at Normanton Lower Cemetery, with stickers attached to say they were unsafe.

People are being charged to have them put back.

People are being charged to have them put back.

Wakefield Council has a policy to place stones flat if they are judged to be at risk of falling over, but Mrs Robinson said she had not been informed the stone would be moved and the practice was disrespectful.

She said: “You would call it vandalism under any other circumstances. We were really upset and angry. What if people with relatives buried in the cemetery live elsewhere and don’t get to visit very often?

“It isn’t fair to leave them lying there.”

Mrs Robinson, from Priory Ridge in Crofton, said a plant pot attached the side of the memorial given was also moved.

It had been provided for the memorial by former workmates of her father, Jim Burton. He was employed as an engineer foreman at the former Spencer Wire Works on Denby Dale Road.

Mrs Robinson had to pay a £250 charge to have the stone put back up.

She said the charge could be too much to afford for people struggling financially.

Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s service director for environment and street scene, said: “A decision to lay down a memorial and place a tag is taken in cases where it presents an immediate risk.

“There have been cases where an unsafe memorial has caused serious injury in other areas of the country and we want to prevent this happening.

“We understand the laying down of a memorial can be upsetting for the loved ones and our staff are trained to provide support and guidance in supporting them to make the memorial safe for everyone.”

He said the council does not make money from the policy and always tries to contact the plot’s owner.