Anger over new rules at Newmarket's cemetery
A family still grieving over the tragic death of their 13-year-old daughter are furious over Newmarket cemetery rules which dictate how they should keep her grave.
Reanna Bull died in October last year and every day since then, her mother Rose has tended her grave in the cemetery along with her husband Ricky and her grandparents.
But, according to Rose, the family’s meticulous care of Reanna’s grave has brought them into conflict with cemetery officials and a new set of regulations introduced in April this year, when Newmarket Town Council authorised West Suffolk’s Cemetery Registrar to enforce them.
“We have put some artificial grass on the grave as a temporary measure to make it looks nice before the headstones goes in, but we have been told to take it up because it’s not allowed,” said Rose. “Reanna’s grave is a plot and a half because one day my husband and I will be there with her. We asked to have a headstone the width of the grave so we have room to include some words for her and our names but have been told we can’t do that.”
The family have also placed some solar lights on the grave but have been told they should be removed together with flower containers.
“Reanna was always afraid of the dark and the lights are there to give me peace when I close my eyes at night,” said Rose.
She said pebbles placed by a Nigerian mother on the grave of her son had been thrown off and another woman had been told that pansies planted on her husband’s grave should be removed. Tickets had also been left on graves telling families to remove items or they would be removed by staff.
“They are our plots, we have paid for them. We do all the work at the grave and we are there seven days a week keeping it looking beautiful,” said Rose.
“If I have to stand up in court to sort this out I will because this is my daughter.”
Mr Bull added: “We know there have to got to be rules and regulations in place but it is the way they are going about it. You just don’t need this extra pressure when you have lost someone dear.”
The family’s anger at the enforcement of new regulations has been echoed by other cemetery users including 84-year-old Roy Gardiner and his wife Joan, 81, who live in Trinty Drive in Newmarket. They regularly visit the grave of their 54-year-old daughter Sharon Grainger and were used to driving in because Joan has difficulty walking. But recently they found the gates locked through another rule to limit the number of vehicles entering the cemetery.
It is the last thing we can do for our loved ones to keep their graves looking nice...
“When we contacted the council office we were told we now have to have permission to drive in and that someone would have to come and let us in, but what about at weekends when there is no-one in the office. They even suggested I hire a wheelchair to push my wife in but I am 84,” said Mr Grainger.
A petition has now been started challenging the rules about what families can put on their loved ones’ graves and already has some 800 signatures. “
It is the last thing we can do for our loved ones to keep their graves looking nice,” it read. “Families are grieving however the council is threatening to remove objects from graves.”
A spokeswoman for the town council said: “West Suffolk Council maintains the cemetery on our behalf and we re-issued our regulations bringing it in line with other cemeteries they manage.
“We had been getting more cars in the cemetery than there should be so we have prohibited vehicles access because we need to preserve the cemetery as a peaceful place and there is a safety issue, the last thing we want is someone getting knocked over.
“We asked for personal possessions to be kept near the top of the shrine so the mowers can get round.”