Widower ordered to remove garden next to wife's grave


Joe Grant, an 85-year-old from South Shields, spoke to the newspapers, after South Tyneside Council told him he would have to remove the ornamental garden by his wife's grave - because it broke their rules.

So what did he do wrong, and can this be fair?
Grant lost his wife Blanche last year. She had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the last 11 years of her life and he had devoted his retirement to caring for her.

In memory of Blanche he laid an ornamental border next to his wife's grave, and filled it with stone chipping.

However, he told the Daily Mail that he had been ordered to remove it by the council, because it broke the rules of Harton Cemetery. Apparently ornamental gardens can only be a maximum of three feet long, and this one is five feet.

Can this be fair?

From the council's point of view, they provided him with these rules when he bought the plot, and he has to abide by them. They told the South Shields Gazette: "We very much sympathise with Mr Grant, but the Council has a responsibility to enforce the cemetery's regulations and ensure it can be properly maintained and accessible to everyone."

However, from Grant's perspective, he says the rules were not made clear to him. The council waited until a year after the garden was built to raise its objection, and now he is being forbidden from honouring his wife's memory in the way he sees fit. He added to the Gazette that the council ought to focus on maintaining some of the graves in the cemetery that have fallen into disrepair rather than complaining about ones that are being lovingly cared for.

Not the first

Grant feels that the council is being unfair, but sadly he is not the first person to have run into difficulty when trying to honour a loved one's grave. Last week Gwynedd Council upset scores of people, after sending out letters asking people to remove flowers, solar lights and toys from graves at a Caernafon cemetery so that the grass could be cut. The plot owners started a petition in protest.

Last Month Leah and James Mitchell were in the news when they revealed they had been told to stop placing teddy bears on their daughter's grave in Basingstoke. The couple said it brought them comfort, but the vicar said it was against the rules of the churchyard.

However, these stories don't always end badly. In 2010, a couple from Cornwall were asked to remove a teddy bear from their son's grave. The bear had been there since their son died seven years earlier and council officials said it needed to be removed for 'health and safety' and 'appearance' reasons. However, after an online petition and a Facebook protest, the rules were changed to allow the bear to stay until at least 2016 - at which time the parents need to apply for an extension.

Read Full Story