More than 1,000 people sign Facebook petition opposing council ban on memorabilia at Stevenage cemetery gardens

The petition is urging the council to change its mind.

The petition is urging the council to change its mind. - Credit: Archant

A petition to stop Stevenage Borough Council removing memorabilia from a cemetery’s rose gardens has attracted more than 800 supporters – less than a day after being launched.

Rhodri Williams, who started the petition on Tuesday night, thinks a blanket ban on leaving items in the Weston Road Cemetery’s memorial rose gardens is unfair and is urging the council to review its decision.

The 44-year-old said: “I think the council could have communicated with everyone in a more effective way – it’s insensitive to just remove these things. They say some of the rose buses have been damaged but are a couple of small items left there really going to hurt?”

Rhodri’s father George was buried at the cemetery in January and he visits every week. He knew the items were going to be removed weeks ago but didn’t want to make a fuss until he saw lots of people posting about it on Facebook which spurred him on to start the petition.

Donna Garner regularly visits the cemetery to pay her respects to her late husband and mother but cemetery staff have removed engraved stones from her husband’s memorial and a lantern from her mother’s.

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She said: “It looked so pretty and now it is so impersonal. I feel as if I am in shock. I don’t know how I am going to tell my 16-year-old daughter that the love heart she put there for her dad is gone.

“They have told me that it is all in storage but they might just as well have thrown it in the rubbish.”

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A council spokesman said: “As part of regular maintenance of the gardens, and after giving eight weeks’ notice, we recently notified visitors that we have removed these unplanned items.

“They have all been catalogued, photographed and stored safely at our Cavendish Road depot.

“To retrieve removed items, please find contact details displayed on notices at the cemeteries.

“Our intention is not to cause anyone undue distress but to make sure the cemeteries provide a peaceful, undisturbed environment for all visitors.”

The council stresses that items can still be left on graves.

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