United Kingdom-A council is under fire for banning crosses from one of its cemeteries – over health and safety fears.
Families have been left distraught after North Somerset Council started to remove wooden crosses from its graveyards.
One woman has told how her mother-in-law’s grave was targeted after she died of cancer in May.
Liz Maggs placed a 26-inch high wooden cross bearing a personal inscription on Rosemary Maggs’ burial plot at the Ebdon Road cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, while the family waited for a headstone to be made.
But when Mrs Maggs, 43, returned to visit the grave with her husband Charles and daughters Zoe, 16, and Danielle, 14, just a few days later she found the cross had disappeared.
She reported it stolen to cemetery staff but they told her it had been removed because
Mrs Maggs, a carer, was told if she wanted the cross back she had to go and look in an alleyway at the back of the cemetery where items which had been removed from graves were stored.
The fact that the cross had been removed upset Danielle so much that she collapsed.
The teenager has been in hospital since September for treatment for a stomach condition and is only allowed out on rare occasions.
Mrs Maggs said the family paid more than £1,000 for the triple plot.
She said she was not made aware of the guidelines and decided on the wooden cross after seeing dozens of similar tributes on other graves.
She said: ‘The whole incident has left us all very upset. We had a look around and saw wooden crosses on other graves so thought something similar would be appropriate.’
She added: ‘When I complained to the cemetery staff I was told it was removed as it did not adhere to regulations and it could pose a health and safety hazard.
‘I am very angry that it was removed without us being told.
‘I think the rules are completely over the top and this incident has been very upsetting at a time when the family is distressed.’ Mrs Maggs has now taken the cross home and placed it in the family’s garden.
North Somerset Council said the cross on Rosemary Maggs’s grave was not suitable because all the other graves in the cemetery had flat memorials, not upright headstones.
The authority said that because the cross stood about 2ft up from the ground it was a health and safety risk.
Council spokesman Nick Yates said: ‘There are a number of regulations we ask people to follow and our staff did discuss with the family what could be placed in the cemetery and we do give relatives written information to this effect.
‘Our staff try to deal with all situations in a sensitive way.’
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