Council accused of 'snobbery' over baby's gravestone

PUBLISHED: 06:01 23 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:02 24 May 2010

VILLAGERS turned out to support a family after a parish council refused permission for a headstone to be put on the grave of a stillborn baby. Billy Winter, who was born two weeks premature in August last year, is buried in the parish cemetery in Churchi

VILLAGERS turned out to support a family after a parish council refused permission for a headstone to be put on the grave of a stillborn baby.Billy Winter, who was born two weeks premature in August last year, is buried in the parish cemetery in Churchill. In January, Churchill Parish Council refused permission for a headstone because it carried a photograph of Billy.The council has also told the Winter family to remove all toys and ornaments from the grave by the end of the month.Parish council chairman Councillor Pam Millward said: "The parish cemetery is seen as an extension of the churchyard. It is four tenths of a mile from an area of outstanding beauty and photographs are out of keeping with the churchyard."The comment prompted Billy's mother, Carol, to run out of the meeting in tears.When the burial ground came up for discussion during the meeting, the press and public were excluded from the proceedings.Churchill 1st Brownies Brown Owl Maureen Porter told the meeting: "I have made it my business to speak to a lot of people in the parish, both young and old. "The clear majority are not in agreement with the council's decision on Billy Winter's grave. This council should act on behalf of the parish and not just the chosen few."She later told the Somerset Mercury: "I have been appalled at the behaviour of some of the councillors. But the family seems to come from the wrong side of the village. It's snobbery of the worst kind."Councillor Barry Gwilt, who has spoken out against the council's decision, was later excluded from the meeting for refusing to withdraw a remark.Cllr Gwilt said: ""I said I thought it was wrong I had received calls from both the chairman and the clerk saying I should either toe the line or resign. "The council seems to think it is a dictatorship, not a democracy."Cllr Millward said: "Cllr Gwilt was told he couldn't campaign for the Winter family as a parish councillor. As an individual he can say what he likes, but as a parish councillor he can't.

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