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Cemetery survey in favour of no gravestone decorations

"Woodland theme" of lawn cemetery in Yateley preferred as survey results show majority in favour of glass decorations and wind chimes being removed

TMS
Heathlands Cemetery in Yateley

Decorations to help remember lost loved ones at a cemetery in Yateley are likely to be removed following a survey .

A public survey carried out to determine the future of Heathlands Cemetery found that 64% of people would prefer the site off Stevens Hill to remain as a lawn-type cemetery.

This could mean families with sentimental items such as glass objects, chippings and glass beads on graves could be asked to remove them in order to adhere to newly enforced rules.

The survey was carried out by the Friends of Heathlands Cemetery to determine what, if any, changes should be made to the rules.

Heathlands has been subject to controversy since it opened in 1957 as a lawn cemetery, which meant that only a headstone or other memorial at the head of a grave was allowed to commemorate the person buried.

However, over the past two decades many have not complied with the existing rules, which have not been imposed by Yateley Town Council.

Chis Barnes, west ward councillor, said: “We had no expectations of what the outcome [of the survey] would be.

“I think it was nice that we had a clear result, the worst possible outcome would have been a 50/50 split.

“It was an interesting result as it was pretty much the same as those found by Yateley Town Council when they conducted a survey two years ago.”

He said the public felt "the changes fit with the woodland theme and it’s very tranquil".

“If people want elaborate graves, why choose a lawn cemetery?” he added.

Independent group

The current rules of the cemetery state that decorative arrangements must be within one foot of the gravestone and there is no recommendation to change this.

People can still have items such as plants at the head and foot stone but chippings, glass vases and wind chimes are set to be removed.

Mr Barnes said the group would decide with the town council how long to give people to change graves back to a lawn-style.

“Hopefully the environment committee will adopt the changes and it will go to full council,” Cllr Barnes said.

“Three weeks after that we hope to start making the changes.”

Friends of Heathlands Cemetery was formed to enable the community to play a part in the management of the site.

It is an independent informal consultative group led by a steering committee made up of both residents and councillors.

The survey results showed that 73% of 292 respondents were in favour of extravagant decorations being removed from existing graves.

Just over 20% of people did not think that lights, including solar ones, should be allowed on graves.

The same percentage did not want to see wind chimes or similar items allowed on graves.

The results of the survey and recommendations will be presented to the council’s environment committee on March 31 from 7.30pm at The Tythings.

 

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