Cleethorpes man frustrated as wife's headstone is placed two feet beyond grave plot
A RETIRED police officer has accused the council of "putting policy before people" following a year-long battle over the positioning of his beloved wife's grave.
Keith Dent, 63, of Dugard Road, Cleethorpes, is devastated that his wife Colleen's headstone and kerbset was placed 2ft beyond the actual grave plot – leaving a 2ft gap at the bottom which people are mistaking for a walkway.
North East Lincolnshire Council told him in letters they had installed the headstone and kerbset "to the specification expected in the cemetery" but Mr Dent, who nurtures his wife's plot every week, believes the council's policy is stopping him from protecting her from disturbance. He has also been left shocked at what he says is the "insensitive" attitude of the council, which even offered him the option of exhuming his wife – explaining the process so graphically that it gave his 28-year-old daughter, Joanne Bradley, nightmares.
Mr Dent, who worked in the police force for 35 years, said: "The public ought to know how unfeeling they are about these issues. They might say they are acting sensitively, but all they really care about is the aesthetic appearance of the cemetery and winning green flags. They do not care about the feelings that people are going through." Colleen died in August 2010, aged 55, after bravely battling breast cancer for seven years.
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She was buried in the cemetery and a temporary wooden cross was put there until the ground was ready for the headstone and kerbset to be laid.
During this time, Mr Dent suspected the council would lay the headstone two feet away after he saw the same thing happen to a neighbouring grave.
He took photographs of the plot before and after which show the gravestone has been moved 26 inches backwards so it is in line with the others.
Mr Dent complained to the council and consulted his solicitor but NELC said it was legally within its rights.
He continued: "My wife battled with cancer and now it feels she is battling again.
"If they had just dug the plot where they intended the body to be all of this could have been avoided. It feels like she is in the wrong place.
"Their policy is allowing people to walk over graves unknowingly. As time goes by they will think it is a grassy area that means nothing to anyone but it is where my wife is buried. All I want is for it to be covered and protected.
"It is very hurtful and the last thing we would have wanted for her. I want her to rest and not be disturbed by people walking over her grave.
"I have been everywhere I can to try to sort it and now there is nothing more I can do. I am frustrated that I am no further on and I want people to know this is happening.
"I am not the sort of person to be pushed around but the way they have dealt with this is disgusting.
"All it seems they care about is having all the graves in straight lines and being awarded green flags. That is their only priority."
Joanne, a school teacher, added: "It is not fair that every day, dad has been worried, upset and stressed about it."
A council spokesperson said: "The interment took place on August 31, 2010. Mr Dent instructed a memorial mason to install a headstone and kerbset on his late wife's grave.
"This was installed earlier this year to the specification expected in the cemetery. The council has corresponded with Mr Dent's solicitor over this matter so it is inappropriate to make further comments.
"We do, however, appreciate the sensitivity of this matter and have always dealt with Mr Dent's concerns with such sensitivity."