Ex-Harpenden Mayor in the mystery of the missing memorial

PUBLISHED: 15:12 23 February 2015

Westfield Road cemetery

Westfield Road cemetery


A former Harpenden Mayor has demanded an explanation from the district council about the disappearance of his parents’ memorial stone, which is at the centre of an ownership dispute.

Paul Foster, who was a St Albans district councillor for 11 years and Mayor of Harpenden in 2003/04, has accused the council of “mismanaging” his parents’ garden of rest plot at Westfield Road Cemetery in the town.

In an email to the council he asked for an explanation about a memorial stone which has vanished since his previous visit from Dubai in January.

During a visit on Saturday, after noticing an empty indent in the ground where the stone had been placed, he wrote to the council: “Given that I have paid for and received information from you that I am the sole owner of [the plot] it seems surprising that the stone would be removed…without first seeking my consent.”

Paul told the Herts Advertiser that his mum Joyce Foster died in 1994 and his father, Basil, passed away in 2012. His ashes were interred last July.

Although Paul’s work has taken him to Dubai, he regularly returns to the UK as his wife still lives in Harpenden.

Following his father’s death, he applied and paid for ownership of the plot to be transferred from his dad to him, which the council apparently duly granted.

It has since transpired that a relative has asked the council to become a joint owner, which Paul has declined to accept.

He is concerned the stone may have been removed for further engraving despite a dispute over its ownership and without his permission.

Paul added: “I have been waiting for the ownership issue to be resolved, but I don’t seem to have a say in what happens.”

Richard Shwe, head of community services at the council, said while he was unable to comment fully, “we are aware of the issue with the missing memorial stone and are currently looking into the matter”.

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