Gloucester Council to review cemetery rule after mum told to change son's grave

Sharna Andrews' seven-year-old son died last year after suffering a severe asthma attack. Credit: ITV News

A Gloucester mother who was told to remove a decorative fence from her son’s grave has been given a reprieve as civic chiefs will review cemetery rules.

Sharna Andrews, 29, from Tredworth, had been told by Gloucester City Council that she would not be able to keep the small fence that she and one of her daughters painted around her late son’s grave.

Seven-year-old son Harry-Lee Andrews-Tomlinson died last year after suffering a severe asthma attack.

In recent months, Ms Andrews “brightened up” her son’s grave at Gloucester Crematorium in Coney Hill but she was told the fence had to go.

Gloucester City Council said boardings have to be approved by a stonemason so they can maintain the ground without risk of damaging it and to ensure they do not pose a health and safety risk.

Sharna said she did not realise the fence would not be allowed and called the rules unfair.

Sharna's son Harry died after having a severe asthma attack. Credit: LDRS

Speaking at a council meeting on Thursday 16 November, Ms Andrews said it saddened her to be put in a position where she had to fight for her son’s resting place.

She asked why loved ones were not allowed to have things to make it personal for them.

The council agreed to review their rules after a motion was brought forward by independent councillors Alastair Chambers and Brendon O’Donnell.

Cllr Chambers said the grandparents and mother of Ramarni Crosby, who was killed during a knife attack in Gloucester, also raised concerns about the rules and regulations of the crematorium.

Cllr O’Donnell struggled to hold back the tears as he read out an emotional letter sent on their behalf.

Deputy leader Hannah Norman explained the graves are maintained in accordance with the rules and regulations of the cemetery.

She said people are allowed to place ornaments for their loved ones within a 3ft by 2ft planting boundary, but agreed that it was right to review the rules which were set in 2014.

Cllr Norman said: “The amendment that I’ve tabled commits the council to review industry best practice and the rules and regulations to see if there are any improvements which can be made.

“A report will be brought to cabinet and if any changes recommended cabinet will be asked to conduct a public consultation before there are changes to rule.”

She said it is incredibly important to give families a clear sense of direction as soon as possible and it is her intention for an initial report to be brought to a meeting in January 2024.

Cllr Norman said that while the review is underway the deed holders who have received letters to make changes will not have any legal action taken against them.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the amended motion.

  • Credit: Carmelo Garcia, Local Democracy Reporting Service