Saturday, 31 October 2020

Cemetery benches to undergo inspection

Cemetery benches to undergo inspection

A DECISION on the future of memorial benches at Fairmile Cemetery in Henley is due to be made later this month.

Henley Town Council will review the location and suitability of each bench on a case-by-case basis as part of a new policy.

Town clerk Sheridan Jacklin-Edward will prepare a report for councillors following a site inspection.

Earlier this year, the council placed notices on all the benches, warning that unauthorised ones would be removed by the council if they were not dealt with by the end of last month.

It said a number of them had been placed without the council’s permission and that there had been cases of vandalism, theft and benches being placed by the wrong graves.

The council said it would dispose of any that were not suitable and those that were compliant could be moved.

The new policy caused upset among relatives, who were told they could buy a replacement bench from the council for up to £1,000.

Mr Jacklin-Edward apologised, saying: “Over the past 20 years, almost 30 benches have appeared in Fairmile Cemetery. Of those, six have been put on plots owned by other families, three are, sadly, broken and seven will likely need repairing in the near future.

“As the majority of benches had been put in place without the council’s consent, we did not have contact details for the owners so a notice was placed on each bench, giving three months’ notice to owners to remove the bench, or to contact the council if they wished to discuss it.

“While our intention was to keep the message clear and simple, in hindsight, the wording of the notice should have been better. We realise that it has caused distress to families, for which I am sorry.

“Our intentions have been to try to prevent sensitive and distressing issues from arising in the future. However, we realise that in the process, it has caused worry and upset to the families. I am very sorry for this and hope that families now have peace of mind, knowing that we will work with them to protect and respect the memories of their loved ones with lasting and fitting memorials.”

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