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Council to review cemeteries

25 January 2007

The Council is undertaking a city-wide look at its policies surrounding future development of cemeteries. Staff also want clearer guidellines for grave adornment.

Greenspace Contract Manager John Revell said differing by-laws for cemeteries across the city had been causing confusion and areview of cemeteries is currently being undertaken which will lead to consistent by-laws and a strategy to address this situation.

It will also tackle issues surrounding the growing trend of adornment of graves, he said.

“We have had to address the issue of plot decoration because of growing concerns about safety,’’ said Mr Revell. “Cemetery staff find it difficult mowing and maintaining plots when things such as silk flowers, mobiles, shrubs and decorations spill over onto the grass and onto adjoining plots. The practice of placing stones on plots can interfere with  mowing and be hazardous to both maintenance staff and visitors.’’

In some cases, letters have been sent to plot holders asking them to remove inappropriate ornamentation and this will continue until the final strategy is developed, said Mr Revell. Notices will also be placed in cemeteries informing people about what is acceptable.

“We have to take these interim measures because the problem is getting out of hand. However we are very mindful of differing needs and want to stress the public will be fully consulted on any future directions to ensure these needs are met,’’ he said.

“We will be extremely careful to respect the views of all groups. We are aware in some cultures, decorating the headstone and plot is a form of grieving and respect for the dead,’’ he said. “While we respect this custom, in some cases it is getting out of hand and starting to interfere with the rights and needs of other plot holders in the same area.’’ `

Council did not intend to eliminate ornamentation, said Cemeteries Administrator Sally Paterson.

“We just want to ensure it is appropriate for the needs of all visitors to the cemetery.

“In the initial stages when the grave is freshly dug and not being mown, it is understandable people want to adorn the site’’ said Miss Paterson. “However once the plot needs to be turned into lawn, people need to be more realistic about what is acceptable in a public cemetery. ‘’

Consistent by-laws produced from the review would also inform people about the of the requirements if they choose to bury a loved one in a particular cemetery.

“We don’t necessarily want all cemeteries to be the same, rather to make requirements fair and equitable,’’ Mr Revell said. “However many people don’t realise the Council does own the land in the cemetery and people buy the right to bury there rather than ownership of the plot.







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