Preston Cemetery row set to continue into next year

Grave of Rose Mary Donnelly, mum of Patricia Varty, who has been sent a letter from Preston Council
Grave of Rose Mary Donnelly, mum of Patricia Varty, who has been sent a letter from Preston Council
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Grieving families could be waiting until April for a decision on memorials on graves in Preston Cemetery.

Town Hall bosses announced last month they would halt threatened enforcement action, to allow for a period of consultation with relatives.

But families have now been told the issue may not be resolved until next year, after receiving letters in August warning items placed outside a certain area on graves would need to be moved or could be taken away.

Patricia Varty, whose mum Rose Mary Donnelly is buried in the cemetery, addressed the latest meeting of Preston Council to ask deputy leader Coun John Swindells for an update on progress.

He said meetings had taken place, and said: “The decision from that was to carry out a full complete review of rules and regulations, to cover both the cemetery and the crematorium.”

Coun Swindells said the council would speak with other authorities, carry out a review and listen to views of families and the Citizen’s Panel.

After that, he said a draft consultation would come back to him, with draft rules and regulations to follow that, to eventually go to cabinet.

He said: “We’ve started now, the time for the review will be around Christmas time which doesn’t seem an appropriate time, so it will be after Christmas and it will come to cabinet no later than April.”

But Mrs Varty suggested the time scale of April was “too long”, eight months after the letters were received.

Coun Swindells said: “We started the review as soon as possible and it will take time to do that because officers will do that as well as their normal job.

“The likely timing was to go out to consultation just either side of Christmas and that didn’t seem an appropriate time, because we may be accused of trying to bury it under Christmas.

“We’ll do it as soon as possible, if we can do it before April we will do.”