A council told a grieving mother that she had only days to clear her twin boys’ graves or she would lose all handmade decorations she prepared for them.
Solihull Council issued an apology to 19-year-old Courtney Barnes after she and her mother, 42-year-old Tracy, launched a petition after being given only four days to remove personal decorations prepared for twin sons Jackson and Lorenzo.
The original letter from the council read: “I am writing to advise you that your plot at Woodlands Cemetery will have new turf laid upon it this autumn in accordance with the cemetery regulations.
“The ground preparation will start on October 11, 2021 with the turfing commencing on October 18 which is scheduled to take 12 weeks to allow for any delays caused by the weather.
“To enable the grounds staff to carry out the works and to safeguard any decorations you have placed onto the grave mound, would you please remove these October 17, 2021.
“Decorations can be placed upon the slabs, concrete or gravelled area at the head of the grave.”
It continued: “If you are not able to remove the decorations yourself the grounds staff will move smaller items to the head of the grave.
“Any grave frames in place will be disposed of as we do not have sufficient space to store them.
“Please be aware that we cannot take responsibility for any damage, loss or breakages so if you are concerned about the welfare of any item it is advisable that you remove this yourself.”
The grave includes low fencing, angels, stones, and a cross – all of which will have to be removed.
“To me it is heart-breaking. We don’t want to go and destroy something that we have worked hard to do,” Tracy expressed.
“I’ve spent hours and hours in the garden painting things, everything on their grave is made by me. I didn’t buy anything from anyone, I made every item on there and it took me a long time.
“They are saying we can put things on the stone but the stone is about a foot wide.”
She went on: “It’s just passed 12 months since they were buried. Christmas is coming now. We usually put a little Christmas tree and stuff there. We can’t do anything. We can’t put anything on the grave.”
The family launched a petition that said they had been left ‘mentally distressed,’ with Courtney and Tracy adding they just wanted to make the twin boys’ ‘forever beds look beautiful.’
A spokesperson for the council said: “We would like to apologise unreservedly for the distress that this letter has caused.
“The graves need to be turfed but we recognise that families need more time to prepare. We will give families at each cemetery four weeks in turn to move tributes and other items before work begins.
“We anticipate this work will take approximately a month at each cemetery, subject to the weather.”
The council added: “We would also like to reassure families that anything, apart from grave frames, that hasn’t been moved in time will be stored safely for a month and will be available for collection during that time. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to store grave frames.
“We will be writing again to all the families who were mistakenly sent these letters to both apologise and outline the correct timeline and procedures.”
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