Families dragged from cemetery and headstone items taken in ‘horrendous’ dispute

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Distressed relatives were removed from a cemetery by police as headstone tributes were taken away just weeks before Christmas.

There were clashes between mourners and police at a Stockport cemetery where people said they were outraged at being made to remove small gardens and personal objects.

There was a big police presence at Mill Lane Cemetery on Wednesday morning, as people defended their right to leave tributes for their loved ones with well provided gardens, the Mirror reports.

But Stockport Council bosses said they are asking the owners to follow a policy they signed up to — and the vast majority of grieving families stick to it already.

Cllr Sheila Bailey said that "it is clear that there is an overwhelming desire that Mill Lane Cemetery must continue to be a lawned cemetery as it was originally designed to be."

Bereaved families blasted the decision especially coming shortly before Christmas.

Kelly Pullen, from Cheadle, has several family members buried at the cemetery and said she was "distraught" at the scene.

She said: "I'm distraught that they're even doing this just before Christmas. We own rights to those graves, we paid for our loved ones to be buried so we should be able to do what we want with them.

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"This is a place that brings us comfort, we've decorated the graves of our loved ones and they're taking that away.

"It's the fact about all the police presence, have they not got anything else to do?"

Gaynor Bradburn, whose mother has been buried in the cemetery for 14 years, said it was "horrendous".

She said: “I’ve been sent a live video and it’s absolutely horrendous. It’s heart-breaking, they’re not letting anybody in and everybody’s obviously very very angry and upset.

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“It’s absolutely disgusting that they can do that. To have the amount of police there is unbelievable, it’s absolutely horrendous."

Some families were allowed inside to collect their belongings, but clashes at the cemetery meant access was restricted and a grieving father had to be restrained by police in a heated exchange.

Despite the clashes, no arrests were made by the police present, a GMP spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News.

Cllr Bailey said she understood how important the ornaments are to families but said that they had been told since 2018 to remove tributes as it was a lawned cemetery.

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She stated: “We understand that all families have their own unique ways of remembering their loved ones and that personal items and ornaments can hold dear memories.

"Each grave has an area around the headstone where such items can be placed.. Over recent years however we have seen larger tributes, gardens or borders established at some graves in Mill Lane Cemetery.

"Many people have told us that they chose Mill Lane as the final resting place for their loved one specifically because it was a lawned cemetery, but the increasing number of gardens or tributes built out in front of graves means that this is no longer the case.

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"The original design of Mill Lane as a lawned cemetery is explained when a family is considering Mill Lane Cemetery and when a grave is purchased.

"We understand that this is an extremely emotive issue and we have been in contact with grave owners since 2018, when they were written to, to ask that gardens, borders or ornaments be removed."

  • Christmas
  • Family

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