A GROUP has been formally set up to review the rules on how graves at Great Malvern Cemetery are maintained.
The town council – which runs the Madresfield Road site – agreed on Tuesday (October 29) that a working party would report back at the first full council meeting of the new year.
The group consists of members of bereaved families, Pickersleigh ward councillors, town clerk Linda Blake and Charles Porter who manages the grounds maintenance team.
They will also be tasked with looking into how requests for memorial benches in Victoria Park are handled and once their work is complete the party will begin reviewing the entire rules and regulations of the cemetery following calls by Coun Patrick Mewton.
He said: “Those rules were set up many many years ago when there were a lot of things going on and we just accepted them.
“Since that time the working practices have changed. The time has come to have a look at what’s in those rules and regulations.”
A motion for councillors and council staff to be accompanied by a bereavement specialist when talking to families about graves was withdrawn following concerns it would open up a can of worms.
Coun Hannah Campbell said: “This is the thin end of the wedge, we need to think about the consequence of bringing forward a proposal like this.
“We do a lot of good work through public interaction and I wouldn’t want to think I had to audit a conversation I had with other ward members.
“If we put this forward what happens when we’re dealing with someone with a bad planning application or bad health?”
Coun Martin Lawrence withdrew the motion but still defended the move.
“We are talking about the management of the cemetery. I totally abhor the suggestion that my motion has anything other than to do with the circumstances of bereavement process.”
The latest developments come after bereaved families reacted angrily to letters sent out by town clerk Richard Chapman instructing them to remove certain items such as mementos and keepsakes from memorial plots at Great Malvern Cemetery within eight weeks.
Mr Chapman said the site was a lawn cemetery and large amounts of objects were preventing grounds staff from being able to maintain the graves to a high standard.
He requested items were limited to up to two vases placed at the front of the plots and referred families to a booklet which outlined the guidelines in full.
A Facebook page called ‘like and comment if you disagree with Malvern Cemetery’ was soon set up by upset relatives which has attracted nearly 1,300 members.