Grave ornament ruling opposed

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

AMANDA Ingham and Kim Pederson just want to show their love for their deceased children.

But with the enforcement of a Gladstone City Council policy prohibiting ornaments over 5cm tall at the Port Curtis Lawn Cemetery, they are finding it hard.

Although in place for some time, the policy had not previously been enforced by the council, which made the need to remove ornaments from the graves even harder.

"We've had them here for four years without a problem,'' said Amanda's husband Robert, whose baby son was buried at the Lawn Cemetery four years ago.

Mr Ingham said ornaments began being taken from his son's grave in November and now there were none left.

The final ornament (a ceramic teddy bear), which was glued to the concrete plinth, was broken from the grave recently.

Mr Ingham said he could understand large vases which may represent safety risks being removed, but didn't see why a 6cm ceramic teddy bear had to be taken away.

Mrs Ingham said all they wanted was for the policy to be changed to allow ornaments up to about 15cm.

Kim Pedersen and her husband Kevin said it wasn't so much the regulation that upset them, but rather the way it had been enforced.

The council sent out about 800 letters earlier this year informing rights holders that any ornaments over 5cm tall would need to be removed due to health and safety regulations.

But according to the Inghams and Pedersens, neither received a letter.

"And we know other families who never got a letter either,'' Mrs Pedersen said.

The enforcement of the policy has also been publicised through several stories in The Observer.

In past stories in The Observer, Gladstone City Council parks and recreation manager Brendan Mohr said the council had done a great deal of consulting as part of the policy.

Mr Mohr said the council realised how sensitive the issue was and as such made every attempt to consult with the family involved.

"Because of the policy we didn't have to consult at all, but did a great deal of consultation due to the sensitivity of the issue,'' Mr Mohr said.

Mr Mohr said with people changing addresses, it was difficult to ensure everyone received the letters.

He asked anyone who had not received a letter or who had concerns to contact him.



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