Grandmother’s plea for memorial bench at Norwich cemetery to be allowed to stay

Sylvia Nobbs and her family have installed a small bench at the grave of her husband, Victor, in Ear

Sylvia Nobbs and her family have installed a small bench at the grave of her husband, Victor, in Earlham Cemetary. They have now received a letter from the council telling them to remove it and granddaughter Hannah Nobbs has started a petition too keep it. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A Norwich family has launched a campaign to save a memorial bench they installed at Earlham Cemetery.

Relatives of Sylvia Nobbs, 76, of Bluebell Road, had the two-seater wooden bench put in by the grave of her husband, Victor Nobbs, who died in September 2014 aged 82.

The family had sought permission from Norwich City Council to install the bench for months with no success, so they went ahead and installed the bench there anyway shortly before Father's Day.

Mrs Nobbs has since been told the bench must be removed.

The grandmother, who was married to her husband for more than 56 years, said: 'We just kept waiting and waiting to hear from the council. It means everything to me to have the bench there. He was my soul mate and my best friend.'

Mrs Nobbs said she had visited her husband's grave every day since he was buried.

Granddaughter Hannah Nobbs, 22, has started an online petition to save the bench which so far has more than 280 signatures.

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Ms Nobbs said she hoped the council would think again about allowing the bench to stay.

She said: 'There's mud and water there all the time and it's easy to trip over for elderly lady.

'It's not obstructing anything and it's not disturbing anybody, and it's a memorial bench at the end of the day.'

She added: 'My uncle had been messaging the council to get permission for the bench but it got to the point that they stopped replying.

'My nan got a letter in the post saying that we had to remove it and if we didn't they would remove it and there would be a fee.'

The petition can be found at www.change.org/p/norwich-city-council-stop-the-council-from-removing-families-memorial-bench

The council's response

Norwich City Council denied permission for Mrs Nobbs's family to install the bench.

A spokesperson for council said: 'We understand that areas surrounding graves are very personal and important to families remembering their loved ones.

'At present, new benches are not permitted in cemeteries for a number of practical reasons.

'In future, memorial benches will be supplied and installed by the council and placed in locations agreed with officers.'

The council does not allow benches to be installed by families at cemeteries for a number of reasons, including:

-They may be positioned on graves or taking up unused grave space

-They may be vandalised and the council would face claims for compensation

-They can encourage rough-sleepers and anti-social behaviour

-Benches with tributes or designs can be unsettling or 'garish' in the eyes of others

- They may prevent cutting and strimming

-The council could face maintenance liabilities or removal costs

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