Ornament removal upsets

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE City Council is continuing to clear ornaments from grave sites at the Port Curtis Garden Cemetery.

The council decided in June to remove ornaments larger than 5cm, in accordance with policy.

The process involved a period of consultation with rights holders, to give them the opportunity to remove the ornaments.

Ornaments left at the cemetery were then removed and kept in a shed at the cemetery for about six weeks, to give people the chance to collect them.

The story has also appeared in The Observer a number of times, including once on the front page (pictured) before the policy was enforced.

However, one resident has expressed concern that she was not informed of plans to remove ornaments from the graveside of her deceased child.

Kim Pedersen said she knew of four other parents with children buried in the lawn cemetery who also had not received any notification, but said one other mother she knew of had.

Mrs Pedersen said while she understood the policy, the way it was enforced was insensitive.

"Can you fathom the devastation a mother feels when she visits her baby's graveside one afternoon ... and discovers ... council has removed ornaments that mean everything,'' Mrs Pedersen said in a letter to The Observer.

Gladstone City Council parks and recreation manager Brendan Mohr said the council consulted as much as possible on the issue due to its sensitivity.

"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 800 letters were sent out to rights holders informing them of the policy and there was also a sign at the front gate explaining the details.

Mr Mohr said as some people moved and changed addresses, there would be some who missed notification.

"People move and change their address so unfortunately we can only go with what we have on our records,'' Mr Mohr said.

Mr Mohr said the policy allowed ornaments up to 5cm high that did not pose a health or safety risk to be fixed to the grave.

He said that the issue of people attach- ing monuments bigger than the 5cm was one that had "crept up'' on the council to the point where something had to be done.

Mr Mohr expressed concern that some residents had not received notification of the policy and asked these people to contact him.

"I know this is a very sensitive issue and so I encourage anyone to contact me so we can address it,'' Mr Mohr said.

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