Investigation promised over ‘devastating’ removal of personal items from North Walsham cemetery

At the North Walsham Town Council meeting over the removal of items at the town's cemetery. Picture:

At the North Walsham Town Council meeting over the removal of items at the town's cemetery. Picture: Stuart Anderson - Credit: Archant

The families of people interred at North Walsham's cemetery have been promised a full investigation into why personal items were removed from their graves without notice.

North Walsham Town Council offices.

North Walsham Town Council offices. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

About 50 people were at an extraordinary meeting of the town council on Wednesday night after outrage that followed the removal of flowers, plants, angels and other ornaments from graves, only to be discovered by a fence in a corner of the cemetery, off Bacton Road.

At the emotional and often heated meeting at the council's Kings Arm Street office, councillors apologised to the public for way the matter was handled.

Councillors said they did not know about the action until after it had been carried out, and passed a motion to investigate what had actually taken place.

Leading the meeting, mayor Sallie Stuckey explained the council's policy on decoration of graves and health and safety at the cemetery.

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She also said: 'We do apologise that we know we have caused some upset but we are hoping to get to the bottom of all this.'

Several other councillors also said they were sorry for what had happened.

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Some residents at the meeting were brought to tears and were visibly shaken by what they saw as a desecration of a sacred place.

One of them, Jane Scott, said she was devastated when she found plants were removed from the grave of a loved one.

She said: 'I found all the plants in a big bag. I find that a desecration and disgusting of you.'

Another resident, Helen Gotts, echoed the views of many when she said: 'Why were we not notified?'

Graham Jones, a former North Norfolk district and Norfolk County councillor, even called on the council to resign over the matter.

He said: 'This is a shambles. You should have given three months' notice and put a notice in the press.

'You have caused an enormous amount of heartache and you need to sort it out.'

The town council had said in a statement the action was taken to: 'Ensure that we offer a safe and accessible area that meets our obligations and our duty of care.'

The motion, which was put forward by councillor Ray Mooney, said the investigation should be carried out within four weeks and residents informed of its outcome.

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