Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hatfield Hyde Cemetery plan 'will lead to mass grave'

Planned council changes to a Hertfordshire cemetery will turn it into a "mass grave", relatives of those interred there have said.

Plots for cremated remains in Hatfield Hyde Cemetery, Welwyn Garden City, are currently marked by a rose tree.

The council wants to remove them and instead lay a single raised flower bed. Some relatives are concerned they will not know where their loved ones are.

The plans "do not include disturbing cremated remains", the council said.

Each of the plots in the memorial rose garden at the Hollybush Lane cemetery is about 2 sq ft (0.6 sq m).

Exhumation offer

Welwyn and Hatfield Borough Council wants to remove the plants which mark the burial of cremated remains and cover the area with a single bed of flowers which bloom all year round.

The bed will be bordered by granite blocks for larger memorial plaques, which the council said could accommodate larger and more personalised inscriptions, plus photographs and images.

About 130 families have been contacted by the council and told their loved ones' remains can be exhumed if they are not happy with the proposals.

Derek Groom, whose father's remains are in the memorial garden, said: "At the moment I can go to the cemetery and talk to my dad.

"If and when they go ahead with this, he will be somewhere over there and I will remember roughly where his plot was, but you won't be able to have a specific spot," he said.

"Everyone that sees the [plans] says 'this is a mass grave.'"

A council spokesman said the new central garden would create a "much more attractive setting" all year round for the bereaved and other visitors.

"The plans for the cemetery do not include disturbing any cremated remains, building a new construction on the site, or any additional charges for exhumation," he added.

"We aware of the sensitive nature of the work and continue to make every effort to explain the plans to those affected."

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