Disgusted mourners who arrived at their loved-ones graves to find fee notices slapped on the headstones have called for the council to reconsider their approach.
Becky Day, of Willows Place, Alfreton, 37, was shocked to arrive at her grandmothers grave at Alfreton cemetery to find a letter demanding she pay £87 for a garden permit because she has more than the one pot plant allowed under council regulations.
“I felt sick” said sales assistant, Becky. “I can’t stop crying. It’s a special place and I feel it has been violated.
“I don’t want it to look just like a bit of grass in a field. I shouldn’t have to pay to keep it looking nice. Not everybody can afford to pay.”
Emma Townsend, of South Normanton, was forced to pay the charge for the grave of her seven-year-old daughter, who died from a brain tumour in 2010.
“I arrived to see my daughters grave and from the car could see something had been left on the stone” she said. “I presumed it would be something nice but as I walked over I saw it was a notice telling me the grave did not comply with cemetery rules.
“I was completely devastated. Whoever put it there surely still has humanity. They could see my daughters face in the tributes.”
Along with others with family at the Rodgers Lane cememtery, Becky and Emma are setting up a petition to call on the council to scrap the charge – which is enforced when families want to plant flowers and shrubs on graves.
“We already pay a fortune for the plot, why should we have to pay again just for keeping it as a nice memorial?” added Becky.
Simon Gladwin, assistant director of landscaping services at Amber Valley Borough Council, said plots at Alfreton cemetery cost £525, with garden permits costing £52 or £87 depending on the plot size.
He added: “The fee is levied as when someone puts a garden it makes it more difficult for the area to be maintained, and it increases the council’s maintenance costs so it is a one off fee that we charge.
“You can’t simply mow up and down rows when there are gardens there.”
He added: “The notice is relatively discreet. It is only an A5 notice saying the garden does not comply with standards and to call the officer to discuss it further.”