Sunderland families have their say on council's call for removal of 'unauthorised tributes' from loved ones' graves in city cemeteries

Grieving loved ones have both criticised and supported a council call for “unauthorised” tributes to be removed from graves in Sunderland cemeteries.

The city council is to carry out improvement works and other ground maintenance to update the look and appearance of Wearside’s burial grounds, making them safer and greener.

As part of the works, which will include a safety survey of all memorials and grave stones, families are being instructed to co-operate with cemetery regulations by removing “any unauthorised items” which may impact on other visitors or maintenance work at the site.

While some families have said it’s “about time” for such intervention, others have called for “some respect” for the dead and how their loved ones choose to grieve.

Sunderland City Council is carrying out a safety survey of all memorials and grave stones in Wearside cemeteries.

A public notice is to be published across Wearside cemeteries this month, providing families with further details on what to do.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Clean Green City, said: "We need the co-operation of grave holders to help us on further improvements with the look and appearance of our cemeteries, especially the lawns and paved areas.

"We, as a council have a duty to ensure proper maintenance and upkeep. We all expect our cemeteries to be respectful places therefore we are now asking grave holders to look and think about their plots."

Grave holders can contact the city’s Bereavement Services on 0191 520 5553 or online.

Families have been having their say on the issue on the Sunderland Echo's social media channels.

Here’s what you had to say on the Sunderland Echo’s Facebook page:

John Chick: “Plot is bought, you can’t dictate what goes on the graves. Have some respect.”

Ben Cranmer: “About time. Got an ornamental cherry tree where three other people have tried putting their name placks in, constant problem yet my family paid for the tree … nightmare.”

Gaz Stor: “Sort the town out and leave the dead alone.”

Anji Grace Beck: "I agree some graves are extended beyond stated limits, but why has Sunderland City Council not managed this over the years?”

Beverley Jayne: “Stop adding to people's heartbreak.”

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Families ordered to remove 'unauthorised' tributes from loved ones' graves in Su...

Michelle Mybelle Swift: “The plot has been bought and paid for. People should be able to have what they want on.”

Vic Atkinson: “How people grieve is no one's business.”

Clare Michelle Parker Brown: “I agree with this 100% there is a four-foot rule if you have curbing, and people are just taking a lend. Everyone needs to be mindful of other people's loved ones. It's simply not on.”

Rebecca Kennedy: “I think they have much bigger things they need to worry about than what families choose to place at their loved ones’ graves.”

Pat Robson: “I honestly think when you see other cemeteries where they only allow a head stone it looks so much neater, the grass cutters can do their job properly. I quite agree with the council.”

Leah Newfb Bainbridge: If they are neat and tidy then why should we remove them? What difference would it make?”

Ian Bailes: “It’s about time something was done about this. My Mam’s grave is surrounded by graves, some of which are full of tat, wire fencing, windmills rubbish and items that are totally inappropriate.

"It’s so bad that council workmen are unable to cut or tidy around my Mam’s grave. For once I fully agree with Sunderland Council for taking this necessary action.”