Grieving families sign petition to stop council removing Hatfield grave tributes
PUBLISHED: 12:56 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:56 11 April 2018
A grieving man has started a petition in a bid to stop the council from removing memorial items from graves in Hatfield.
Fed up of being told to remove items from his grandmother’s grave in Hatfield Lawn Cemetery, Billy Watts started a petition yesterday in a bid to prevent Welwyn Hatfield Council from removing items from graves.
Nearly 200 people have signed the petition over night.
Recently the council sent out letters to families who have loved ones buried there to inform them that they would be “returning” the S section to a lawn cemetery.
Relatives were told that they have until Tuesday, May 1, to remove the items from graves otherwise they would be removed by the council and placed in bags and left on plinths for a short time for collection.
The council also offered to help with the removal of items.
Billy’s grandmother Jean Cutler, who lived in Welwyn Garden City for over 40 years and died on May 24 last year, and leaves behind seven children, 14 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
The 26-year-old duty manager said: “I’ve set this petition up not just for my own family but for all of the families affected by this poor decision by the council.
“We need to come together and show them we will not allow them to ‘grass over’ the graves of our loved ones.
“For many, this is the only thing we have left to remember them - and to take that away is just simply not on.”
Natalie Gilbert, 27, was “shocked” to discover that remembrance items had been put in clear plastic bags and “shoved” behind the graves where her three children rest.
In 2011 Natalie lost her twin sons Charlie and Alfie when they were just 24 weeks old, and sadly lost her daughter Rosie during a stillbirth at 24 weeks too.
The former Our Lady Catholic Primary School pupil explained: “I did get a letter from the council urging me to move the bits but they have sent those letters before and nothing has come of it.”
Natalie said her two children Harry, five, and Jake, three, were distraught when they saw their sibling’s graves had been touched.
She added: “The graves take up no space and we tidy them every single week.
“I even take scissors with me to cut the grass around them as I understand they can’t spend loads of time doing it.”
Kellie Sutton’s mum, Pamela Taylor, of Welwyn Garden City, also received a letter from the council telling her to remove items and only place them on the plinth.
Kellie’s partner was sentenced to prison last month for assaulting and controlling her, which led to the mum-of-three taking her own life in August last year.
Pamela said: “We pay for the plot and own it so as a grieving family we should be allowed to do what we want.
“The graveyard looks awful as just grass, it’s so muddy and slippery.
“They need to put pavements down and not have it as a lawn cemetery because someone is going to slip and hurt themselves.”
Emily Williams, 21, of Welwyn Garden City, buried her stillborn baby in the cemetery last year and every month since says that she has topped up the soil herself on his grave.
She said: “I feel so upset. The contractors have broken so much of the stuff on the grave.”
A spokeswoman for the borough council said yesterday: “For all those laid to rest at the Lawn Cemetery, and their loved ones, it is important that we maintain the grounds to the highest possible standard.
“Commemorative items are welcome on the plinths so that the main area is clear to be restored to lawn, and we do everything we can to make people aware of this when they chose the Lawn Cemetery.
“We wrote to owners to explain the work, and offer our assistance, to ensure it was handled as sensitively as possible.”
To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/welwyn-hatfield-council-prevent-welwyn-hatfield-council-from-removing-memorials-from-graves?recruiter=605550731&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_content=ex83%3Acontrol