Grave toys removed to 'safeguard' parish

PUBLISHED: 06:32 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:20 24 May 2010

THE family of a stillborn baby says it is shocked at the removal of ornaments from the child's grave. Churchill Parish Council removed the toys, a lantern and a wind chime from Billy Winter's grave at the parish cemetery this week. For months Billy's fami

THE family of a stillborn baby says it is shocked at the removal of ornaments from the child's grave.Churchill Parish Council removed the toys, a lantern and a wind chime from Billy Winter's grave at the parish cemetery this week.For months Billy's family and the council, which owns and runs the cemetery, have been locked in a dispute about whether the items should be allowed.Family members say they are shocked at the stripping of the grave and said they believed an 'independent mediator' was to be called in to discuss the situation before anything was taken away.But the council says this was never agreed and the decorations were clearly not allowed under cemetery rules. It first warned the family of this in December last year. Billy was buried in August. The council also says it wrote a letter to the family in March stating the decorations had to be removed within 28 days or they would be removed. Councillors say they have simply carried this out.Billy's uncle, Peter Blannin, said: "I cannot believe the council has gone ahead and done it. There is a huge feeling in the community that the decorations should stay and the council has pushed us around."We were given the impression at the annual parish meeting that a mediator from the Institute of Cemeteries and Crematorium Management would discuss the situation before anything was done."Yet the council has gone ahead anyway. I do not see the purpose of the council antagonising the situation. We have carried out a survey of around 500 people in the village and more than 90 per cent supported us."Parish council clerk Lindsay Ireland said: "The idea of a mediator was suggested at a parish council meeting and it was considered by the council."However, no vote was taken on this and no decision was made. We did investigate the possibility of an outside body coming in but discovered that it would not come to a verdict, just advise both parties."We have never been presented with the petition and so are in no position to comment on it."Councillors are elected to safeguard the interests of the parish. To do this there must be rules and this particular family has decided not to follow the rules.

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