Sentimental tokens on children’s graves banned by council

Durham Road Cemetery in Stockton

Families are being ordered to remove all sentimental tokens from their children’s graves for “health and safety reasons.”

The concerns

The true concern in this case is a bit of a mystery. Apart from saying there are health and safety concerns, the press have not given any more substantial reasons for the ban.

Reporting the story

The storey has been reported extensively in the Evening Gazette , which covers the Teesside area, with the first article appearing around 12 January 2009.

Most of the reporting relates the distress caused to parents having received letters from the council. Some tragic cases of children dying very young are reported, with families feeling their ability to come to terms with their loss will be affected.

For the council, as well as citing “health and safety reasons”; a spokesman claimed that extensive consultation had been carried out prior to sending letters and issuing notices.

Is this Seriously Silly?

It is difficult to say whether this is seriously silly decision by the council, but to quote health and safety without out further explanation certainly is. From the press reports it is difficult to conceive of any significant risk being posed by the items left on graves by families.

Should the ban be lifted?

I don’t think many people will be surprised that this is causing great upset for families. Unfortunately in these circumstances there will always be a few people who let things get out of hand, but I think many parents would like to make their child’s grave in some way that they see fitting. Notification of the ban certainly seems to have been handled badly, and it does seem like the council have made a poor decision and used health and safety as a convenient excuse.