Breakable or dangerous items to be removed from St Albans gravestones

Cemetery staff in St Albans will remove breakable or dangerous items from graves. Picture: Danny Loo

Cemetery staff in St Albans will remove breakable or dangerous items from graves. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Cemetery bosses in St Albans are clamping down on items that are left on graves by vowing to remove anything breakable or dangerous.

Visitors to the council's cemeteries often bring ornaments, pot plants or even solar lights to leave on the graves of their loved ones.

However council officials say the items left behind - particularly breakable items - can pose a danger to other visitors and staff, and it is understood cemetery workers have been injured by flying pieces of broken glass when using strimmers around the graves.

Now it has been made clear in their revised 'cemeteries information and regulations' that items made of glass, pottery, tin or plastic will be removed without notice. The ban also extends to garden hooks, bricks, blocks, wire mesh or plastic fences.

The document also states that any other items not banned from the cemetery must be within the confines of the area permitted and not on walkways or other nearby graves.

This move is said to have followed complaints of tributes overflowing into adjoining plots or blocking walkways between graves. However the document also makes clear that 'informal' items will be allowed on children's graves, as long as they are suitably maintained and do not obstruct maintenance. If cemetery staff do spot something that is broken on a child's grave they will photograph it and write to the family before taking anything away.

The document says: "Graves within the children's area may be adorned with informal items, such as balloons, flags and decorative items, as long as they are placed within and do not extend beyond the boundary of the plot.

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"The decorative items will only be removed by the council if they obstruct the maintenance of the cemetery or are not suitably maintained."

The revised cemetery regulations were considered by St Albans district council's community, environment and sport scrutiny committee earlier this month.

Committee chair Cllr Annie Brewster said: "Finding something removed from one's relative's grave can be hugely disturbing so I applaud the open door approach there is at the Hatfield Road office so advice can be sought in advance."