Preston Cemetery group 'very upset' with decision to keep memorial rules the same

Chairman of Friends of Preston Cemetery, Patricia Varty, delivered a petition to Couns Swindells and Saksena in 2017
Chairman of Friends of Preston Cemetery, Patricia Varty, delivered a petition to Couns Swindells and Saksena in 2017

Councillors are close to settling a long-running dispute over grave memorial decorations – but are not to set to make major changes.

Warning notices were issued at Preston Cemetery in 2016, stating that items placed outside two foot and six inches surrounding graves would need to be moved or else could be taken away.

Since then, Preston Council has undertaken a review of grave memorials over 18 months, with the report published this week indicating that rules would remain the same.

The report states: “It is clear that the council’s current rule of memorialisation up to two foot six inches from the head of the grave is consistent with the approach taken by those local authorities.”

Chairman of the Friends of Preston Cemetery group, Patricia Varty, said: “People are very upset about the decision. It’s a joke to be honest.

“The council have just shut the doors in our faces.”

Patricia explained that the group were hoping to settle on a compromise of three to four feet of memorials after a public consultation on the issue, but the council decided that it would significantly impact the likes of maintenance costs and health and safety concerns.

“We will still be fighting for four feet [but] if we get three that would still be a great result,” Patricia explained.

The most popular option in the consultation was to allow personalisation to the full length of grave boundaries, but it was also shelved due to costs.

The Friends of Preston Cemetery are set to meet tonight (Thursday, March 8) at the Ribble Lodge in Ribbleton Avenue at 7pm to discuss the council’s decision.

A final decision on the rule will be made at next Wednesday’s (March 14) city council cabinet meeting.