Evicting our dead

Memorial tablet renewals notice at the New Garden of Remembrance at Lower Ince Cemetery

Memorial tablet renewals notice at the New Garden of Remembrance at Lower Ince Cemetery

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A WIGAN woman has spoken of her distress after seeing disrespectful “eviction” notices placed on memorial plaques at Wigan Crematorium and Lower Ince cemetery.

Kathleen Pressey, 62, spoke out after visiting her parents’ plot last week and is now concerned for families who cannot afford to pay for a lease renewal.

But Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) bosses moved to allay fears that failure to pay for the new leases would automatically result in the plots being removed and the ashes discarded.

Kathleen, who grew up in the borough before moving to Plymouth, said: “Some months ago my family received notice that the lease on our parents’ plot was due for renewal.

“We had assumed that the plot provided a place of eternal rest but we did pay up. When I visited to place some flowers last week, a big notice was pinned on a tree informing people that leases are due to expire and worse still, smaller notices were stuck to graves with sellotape. It looked like a mass eviction was taking place.

“I found it deeply upsetting and it seems so disrespectful for the deceased and their families.”

A spokesman for WLCT’s bereavement

services explained that the notices pinned to the memorial plaques were a last resort after attempts to contact families of the deceased had failed.

He said: “We are doing everything we can to support families who were not aware that their lease renewal for cremation memorial tablets was due.

“Letters were sent out to all those people affected back in February to advise them about their lease renewals. In cases where we have had no response, we have posted notices up on site to ask people to get in touch so that we can assist them through this process.

“We would urge all relatives who have any concerns about these matters to discuss them fully with our bereavement team. There are a range of options available including a payment plan option over a 12 month period which equates to £20 a month for a 20 year renewal.”

WLCT also stressed that in extreme circumstances where families cannot pay their leases, the ashes can be retrieved from the container they were buried in and scattered as part of a ceremony at the garden of remembrance. The tablet and name plaque can also be passed on to the family.

Kathleen, whose parents Hilda and Vincent Winstanley passed away six and 27 years respectively having lived in the Marsh Green and Pemberton areas, said her main concern was for those people who cannot afford to pay in the current economic climate.

She added: “It really upset me to see these notices slapped on the graves using sellotape. Rest in peace? It appears not in Wigan.”