Council slammed over cemetery fees

Hampshire Chronicle: A petition is being set up over fee notices attached to headstones at Alfreton Cemetery A petition is being set up over fee notices attached to headstones at Alfreton Cemetery

A council has defended issuing permits asking mourners to pay fees for the graves of their loved ones.

Bosses at Amber Valley Borough Council were criticised after people visiting Alfreton Cemetery in Derbyshire found the fee notices attached to headstones. Letters demanded payment of either £52 or £87 depending on the plot size and told people they need to buy council garden permits in order to have more than one flower pot on a grave.

Emma Townsend, of South Normanton, said she was forced to pay the charge for the grave of her seven-year-old daughter, who died from a brain tumour in 2010.

She told the Derbyshire Times she was shocked and distraught when she saw the notice on her daughter's grave in the Rodgers Lane cemetery, having thought at first that it would be something nice.

Instead, the letter told her the grave did not comply with cemetery rules.

She told the newspaper she was completely devastated. "Whoever put it there surely still has humanity," she added. "They could see my daughter's face in the tributes."

Becky Day, of Alfreton, said she was asked for payment of £87 at her grandmother's grave because she had more than one pot plant.

Simon Gladwin, assistant director of landscaping services at Amber Valley Borough Council, said plots at Alfreton Cemetery cost up to £525, with garden permits costing £52 or £87 depending on the plot size.

He added: "The fee is levied is when someone creates a garden that makes it more difficult for the area to be maintained, and therefore increases the council's maintenance costs. It is a one-off fee that we charge. The notice is relatively discreet. It is only an A5 notice saying the garden does not comply with standards and to call the officer to discuss it further."

A group of people with family at the cemetery said they are setting up a petition urging the council to scrap the charge.

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