Baby cemetery ‘made to look like a car park’

142116a'The baby cemetery at Woodlands'Picture by Neil Silk'20/05/14
142116a'The baby cemetery at Woodlands'Picture by Neil Silk'20/05/14

Parents who have children buried in Scarborough’s baby cemetery are furious with the council for gravelling over the area.

The grassy area has been replaced with the stone covering in a bid to stop weeds, but parents have told The Scarborough News that it has “removed the soul and the warmth” from the site.

The new look has been compared to that of a “car park” and there are calls for the grass to be reinstated.

One parent, who asked not to be identified, said: “We are devastated at what they have done.

“It was a beautiful green grassed garden full of love warmth, trees, butterflies and birds.

“Sadly, our baby was born sleeping and we laid her to rest there.

“We chose this area as it was a pretty garden full of warmth and nature.

“We had a beautiful funeral for our much loved daughter and she was buried here.

“The changes they have made are so harsh and drastic that it no longer feels like her grave.

“We knew they were going to make a few changes and tidy up, but never realised they would be so drastic.”

Signs were put up warning people that there would be some maintenance on the area, but the parent says they were not informed as to the scale of the changes.

She added: “They have turned a much loved and appreciated area into a gravel pit of grey stones, much like a car park.

“It now feels cold and very grey. I know a few mums here and we often visit every week and everyone tidied their graves and often cut our own grass with scissors.

“I hope they put it back.”

Another parent said they were planning to write to MP Robert Goodwill to plea with him to interject and push the council to restore the area to its former state.

The woman, who also did not wish to be named due to the nature of her job, added: “Our baby boy’s grave was always kept tidy, we would frequently visit and be known to cut the turf with scissors and trim the hedge beyond. We wish to return his grave to a natural habitat of grass and flowers, an area of beauty which reflects our everlasting love for him, which we will continue to maintain. we implore that you understand how heart breaking it is seeing our babies swamped in nothing less than stone chips.”

Many parents would decorate the grave sites with toys and plants, and whilst the council has said that the toys can be put back, plastic and wooden fences that previously were put around graves have been banned, following complaints from visitors to the cemetery.

Darren Unsworth, Scarborough Council’s cemeteries and crematorium manager, said that the council would be making further improvements to the area.

He said: “We have always felt that the baby cemetery lacked the standard which we felt the children at rest there deserved.

“Maintaining the section was very difficult which meant grass and weeds became overgrown and unsightly. We signed the area for six months to let people know of our intentions, which included the Christmas period when most families would visit.

“We decided on a gravelled finish, which would mean that family memorials to their children would be left undisturbed; we only asked that fencing above the height of the gravel be avoided as this caused the majority of complaints from visitors to the area.

“It was never our intention to cause any additional upset to families. Our aim was to create an area that would give the children respect and dignity. While we appreciate some families are finding this contrast difficult to get used to, we have many families who have thanked us for doing something to improve this very important area.

“There are still finishing touches to be made, including the addition of a memorial bench and arbour and flowering sections at each of the four corners of the area, which will add colour and softness as well as attracting wildlife, such as butterflies.

“We hope that these elements together with the return of the keepsakes will create a dignified space that is a fitting tribute to the children that are laid to rest there.

“We have also offered to talk to those families not happy with the changes to see what improvements we can offer them.”