How does this not ‘up­set any­one’?

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

RE: Strong feel­ings over grave plan (page 11, Ad­ver­tiser, Oc­to­ber 2) AC­CORD­ING to Chal­font St Peter Parish Coun­cil, ‘in 2009 the coun­cil re­ceived nu­mer­ous com­plaints about the Gar­den of Rest’.

Com­plaints are not men­tioned in the coun­cil’s min­utes.

From May 2009 to June 2011, the coun­cil de­bates grave­stones safety. In May 2009 and later meet­ings, the is­sue of in­ap­pro­pri­ate memo­ri­als is also raised. Th­ese are both cited in the coun­cil’s Gar­den of Rest fact sheet in Septem­ber 2014 as rea­sons for the new pol­icy.

Lay­ing to lawn will not solve ei­ther of th­ese is­sues. Grass will not support head­stones. The ceme­tery reg­u­la­tions al­low the coun­cil to re­move in­ap­pro­pri­ate memo­ri­als.

The coun­cil claims that this pol­icy was reached after ‘ex­ten­sive re­search and de­bate was car­ried out’.

Coun­cil­lor Hat­ton at­tended a work­shop on ceme­tery man­age­ment in the sum­mer of 2009. In De­cem­ber 2009, Coun­cil­lor Mrs Darby states that ‘to keep the GoR look­ing de­cent, we would have to go down this route’ and that ‘reg­u­la­tions would be eas­ier to en­force’. This, ap­par­ently, is re­search and de­bate.

The coun­cil in­sists that the change is not be­ing made for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

It was noted in De­cem­ber 2009 that ‘in the short term it would be less ex­pen­sive to main­tain’.

At least the coun­cil has of­fered a meet­ing to dis­cuss the is­sue.

In a let­ter to Rt Hon Ch­eryl Gil­lan MP, the coun­cil states it will have a meet­ing ‘but will not be chang­ing or go­ing to a fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion re­gard­ing this mat­ter’.

The coun­cil in­sists that it does not want to up­set any­one.

The coun­cil seems de­ter­mined to bull­doze this change through de­spite protests and pe­ti­tions. In fact, it ap­pears that de­spite the sen­si­tiv­ity of this is­sue, the work on Sec­tion K is al­ready start­ing.

DR IAN REED

Ox­ford­shire

A DOVE paid a visit to a gar­den in Stoke Po­ges to take ad­van­tage of a wa­ter fea­ture.

Reader Janet Mitchell, of Duffield Lane, took this snap of the bird seem­ing to en­joy a shower.

Do you have an eye for a good pho­to­graph? Would like to see meet­ing. A pe­ti­tion of more than 470 sig­na­tures op­pos­ing their plan was also handed in. I raised the fol­low­ing item: Your decision in 2011 to grass over graves fol­low­ing com­plaints about fall­ing head­stones, plac­ing of in­ap­pro­pri­ate memo­ri­als and un­kempt grave­sides, does not ap­ply to the graves of the re­cently de­parted in Sec­tion K. More­over, it con­tra­dicts the state­ment on your web­site that the coun­cil is not re­spon­si­ble for ‘the main­te­nance of in­di­vid­ual graves’.

I stated that my fam­ily op­poses their plans as tend­ing to my dad’s grave is ex­tremely im­por­tant in our fam­ily griev­ing process and that we wish to con­tinue to tend to my dad’s grave.

The plea of those who at­tended was unan­i­mous and sim­ple. We asked for a com­pro­mise – give fam­i­lies the op­tion to con­tinue to main­tain the grave­side them­selves or to grass over. Lay to lawn where fam­i­lies are happy to have this done or have ex­pressed no pref­er­ence.

Should a time come when th­ese graves are not main­tained, then is­sue a no­tice to fam­i­lies that it will be laid to lawn.

It was dif­fi­cult to gauge how the coun­cil­lors felt, as many of them sat with their backs to us for the du­ra­tion of the meet­ing.

My mother and I have ac­cepted an of­fer to dis­cuss the mat­ter next Tues­day with the parish clerk and chair­man of the parish coun­cil. How­ever, what this may achieve is ques­tion­able since the clerk has stated in pre­vi­ous cor­re­spon­dence, but not to the af­fected fam­i­lies, that

buck­snews@ trin­i­tysouth.co.uk ONL

INE

‘the coun­cil will not be chang­ing or go­ing to a fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion re­gard­ing this mat­ter’.

LIZ REED Ox­ford­shire

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