Midhurst cemetery’s red tape and rules are under review

MIDHURST town councillors are reviewing their Carron Lane cemetery regulations after a couple mourning the loss of their baby daughter accused them of deepening their grief through insensitive bureaucracy.

Kerry Goodman and her partner Kevin Limbrick lost baby Rhianna 23 weeks into her pregnancy and she was buried in the Carron Lane cemetery.

Later a small pink rabbit, three hearts and a glass vase were removed from the grave, without explanation, said the couple, because they were ‘unauthorised ornaments’. They said they were told they had to make a written application to place what they regarded as trinkets on the grave.

On Monday members of the town council’s Community Care Committee decided to recommend full council to form a working party to look again at the regulations after a proposal from committee member Mark Purves.

He also suggested that as part of the review, the working party should look at providing a separate area in the cemetery for children.

But his proposal to give special permission for the ‘trinkets’ on baby Rhianna’s grave was not accepted. He told fellow councillors: “My view is we should permit the hearts given their size but not permit the rabbit on the grounds that it is not suitable to be left outdoors.”

The Rev David Coote told councillors people responded to death in very different way and he as a clergyman and councillors should be very sensitive.

But councillors decided to look at the application once the rules had been reviewed.

Town clerk Joan Hursthouse told members: “You can’t ask me to differentiate between graves. Whatever you decided is for all the 2000 graves in the cemetery.”