Thousands sign petition as Preston Cemetery row continues

Grave of Rose Mary Donnelly, mum of Patricia Varty
Grave of Rose Mary Donnelly, mum of Patricia Varty
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More than 3,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition against the removal of memorials from graves in Preston Cemetery.

Dozens of families were left heartbroken after the council sent letters warning items placed outside a certain area would need to be moved, or could be taken away.

A temporary reprieve was offered after Town Hall bosses announced they were halting the threatened enforcement, to allow for a period of consultation.

But thousands of people have now signed a petition against the proposals, and say they are still uncertain about the future of the graves.

Patricia Varty, whose mum Rose Mary Donnelly is buried in the cemetery, said a meeting was to be held for representatives of the families affected next week, with a protest expected outside the Town Hall.

She said: “A lot of the families are very angry, a lot of them are threatening to stand outside the Town Hall.

“They are angry because I can only take so many.

“Officially, we’ve got more than 3,000 signatures on the paper petition.”

The petition is urging the council to consult more openly with the public around the cemetery rules and regulations, and asks for more flexibility around how the graves are maintained.

Patricia said: “It’s only on hold. Nothing has been set in concrete, nothing has changed.”

Coun John Swindells said in a statement last week there would be no enforcement action until a review was carried out, and the council would try to respond to the community.

It said: “We want to work in a reasonable and sensible way - one that meets the needs of local people, but also preserves the cemeteries for the next 100 years and more.”