District’s grave plans up for debate

Falkirk Council want to introduce rules limiting the height of gravestones''Picture: Michael Gillen
Falkirk Council want to introduce rules limiting the height of gravestones''Picture: Michael Gillen

Bereaved families will have their say on controversial changes to cemetery rules being proposed by Falkirk Council.

Officials want to rewrite the policy drawn up in 1996.

Recommendations include limiting the size of gravestones to four feet, stopping people buying lairs in advance unless they can prove they are terminally ill and only allowing floral tributes on new graves for two weeks after the burial.

The proposals came after a panel was set up to ensure bereavement services in the area were fit for purpose and meet standards.

Councillors Craig R. Martin and Allyson Black met representatives from churches, the mosque, funeral services and third sector bereavement groups before a report was drawn up.

They also visited cemeteries across the district and Falkirk Crematorium.

However, when the report came to the Executive committee on Tuesday, council leader Councillor Craig Martin said the subject was “too emotive” not to gauge wider public feeling before implementing any changes.

He said it was a difficult issue and praised officials, along with elected members and others, who had undertaken the review.

Mr Martin added: “The work undertaken has been remarkable but it is a really difficult report to agree straight away. We need to get more feedback from the public before looking at the options.

“This is an emotional and controversial piece of work. As an authority it is our duty to get the views of as many people as possible and therefore it is only right we consult.”

The council leader also questioned proposals to curtail what people could put as memorials and what tributes they could put on gravestones.

He added: “We have to look at the impact of poverty on what people can afford to have as tributes.”

It was a point echoed by Councillor Gerry Goldie, who said: “In the past I’ve been asked to make wooden crosses for people to put on graves because they can’t afford a stone. Under these proposals that wouldn’t be allowed.”

The SNP opposition had already called for the conclusions reached in the report be put out to public consultation.

Officials were also asked to bring back a report on the issue of maintaining older gravestones in cemeteries.