There is to be crackdown on graveside memorials in Scarborough’s Woodlands cemetery after 400 “inappropriate” items were found in a recent review.
Scarborough Council is toughening up its policy after the review found that large trees and bushes were being planted, which then spread to neighbouring graves.
One councillor even likened the graveyard to a “disco” due to the number of lights.
On Tuesday, the council’s cabinet approved changes to its memorial policy, which will allow it to remove any memorial that is deemed to not fit in with the allowed criteria.
A report by the council’s environment and regulation manager, Jonathan Bramley, stated: “A systematic survey of Woodlands Crematorium and cemetery has been undertaken to quantify the extent of the breached memorials.
“The headline issue was that over 400 breached memorials were identified at Woodlands Cemetery. The vast majority of breaches of the memorial decoration policy come under the following three categories: the erection of stone or marble kerbs (allowed in older sections only), fences or chippings to enclose cremation and cemetery memorials; erection of unauthorised memorials in the form of trees and bushes; placing of flowers, small potted plants or heather beyond the permitted 18” for full graves and 12” for cremated remains graves in front of the memorial stone.”
In the first instance a person breaking the policy will be spoken to in a face-to-face meeting, if no action is taken an ‘informal’ letter will be sent asking for the memorial to be removed.
In the final stages, the council will remove the memorials and the person in question will have three months to come and collect the item, if they do not it will be disposed of by the authority.
Cllr Bill Chatt told the meeting: “A cemetery should be a place to lay people to rest, if you go to Woodlands at night it looks like a disco there are that many LED lights flashing. It looks like a night rave.”
Cllr Bill Chatt, speaking on Tuesday, said: “This is really, really difficult one and we have to be very sensitive here. “I get a lot of calls about it, people plant these trees and they are small and the next thing they are 20 feet tall. “People told me that they going to sue the council for negligence and our old superintendant tried to address it but got quite a lot of hate mail. “Plants are one thing, but people are now putting plastic gnomes on graves.
“We have to say to people ‘think about the neighbours’, we need to enforce this policy.”
Cllr Derek Bastiman added: “It is extremely sensitive. However, we went up as a cabinet and saw the destruction and damage that had been done and it is upsetting for the majority of the families, I feel sure.” He added that the council’s scrutiny board supported the recommendations.