Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Families to give views on Heathlands cemetery rules

The families of those buried at a Hampshire graveyard will have a greater say over the way the cemetery is run.

Memorials on plots at Heathlands cemetery in Yateley were to be cleared and replaced with lawn after the town council decided graves should be plain.

But a proposal was accepted that no action should be taken until the views of a new committee are discussed.

The Friends of Heathlands will be made up of those with loved ones at the cemetery and up to two councillors.

The proposal to form the committee was made during a public meeting, held at the Tythings on Monday night. It was held after some relatives felt they have been left out of the council's discussions.

David Murr, Lib Dem leader of Yateley Town Council, said: "The committee will give loved ones greater scope as to what they want at the cemetery.

'No hidden agenda'

"There's no hidden agenda. We want to listen to what the people have to say. Ideally we would find a solution that everyone is happy with."

The council said it had always had strict rules as to what types of memorial were allowed on the cemetery's 1,320 graves.

Currently families have a year to adorn the whole length of the grave, from the date of burial.

After this time only the headstone and plinth should remain, with an area, a foot-long from the headstone, on which to place flowers and ornaments.

Mr Murr continued: "Up until about 15 years ago, everyone complied with the rules.

'Breaking the rules'

"Then, after we were contacted by a gentleman who told us people were breaking the rules, we thought we had to enforce, or change the rules."

Mr Murr said children's graves were not affected in this process.

The council carried out a six-month consultation period and sent out 90 letters to the next of kin of those buried in the cemetery, of which 30 came back.

Twenty-six of those who responded said they wanted the "lawned look" to be restored.

"If people had told us they were happy for it to be changed from a lawn type cemetery we'd have done so", Mr Murr added.

The new committee will be officially formed at the town council's next environment meeting, later this month.

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