Mother's anger over soldier son's Melton grave costs

The mother of a Leicestershire soldier killed in Afghanistan has described her anger after being charged more than £400 for her son's grave maintenance.

Acting Corporal Marcin Wojtak, 24, from Leicester, was killed in 2009 in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

His mother, Theresa Woods, said she had no idea Melton Borough Council would charge her £458.40 on top of the cost of her son's memorial.

Melton Borough Council said they would waive the costs in this "unique" case.

Ms Woods said that when she rang the council to ask what the bill was for, she was told "incidental charges".

"I fail to understand what a slab of granite has in terms of maintenance," she said.

"What do they maintain? I trimmed around Marcin's grave for the last two years while it was still soil."

'Heartless' response

Ms Woods had a granite headstone, kerbstone and bodyslab put up in memory of her son.

"We could have had a military headstone...but that we wanted Marcin's life story in the RAF actually celebrated and that wouldn't have been reflected on the military stone.

"We knew there would be costs - you can't have it for free - but Melton Borough Council never made us aware of the extra charges."

Malise Graham, leader of Melton Borough Council, apologised for the distress caused to Ms Woods.

He said: "We are terribly sorry it came to this...within five hours [of being made aware], we decided to wave the charges.

"We do charge £98 for a headstone, £142 for a kerbstone and £142 plus VAT for a bodyslab as the areas around the kerbstone and bodyslab have to be strimmed. You cannot mechanically go over them with a mower so someone has to strim it and there is a one-off payment in perpetuity."

"Cemeteries are expensive places to run, it costs about £125,000 a year for Melton's rate payers. But it was heartless in this situation and it was a unique situation and not one we have come across in Melton before."

The inquest into Acting Cpl Wojtak's death is due to take place next year.

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