Plastic flowers and ornaments ban at Stoke-on-Trent's biggest cemetery
GRIEVING families have been told to remove plastic flowers and ornaments from the headstones of their loved ones to help retain the 'natural appearance' of Stoke-on-Trent's biggest cemetery.
Signs have gone up at the council-run Carmountside Cemetery warning visitors 'unauthorised items' such as fake bouquets, teddies, vases and other trinkets will be 'sensitively' disposed of next month.
Mourners are instead being asked to only leave fresh loose flowers with no bindings or wrappings.
Now outraged families have labelled the decision 'disgusting'.
Full-time mother-of-two Stacey Stanier regularly visits the grave of her grandmother Joyce Stanier.
The 23-year-old, of Stanley Road, Hartshill, said: "If you can't get to the cemetery very often, artificial flowers are better because they last longer.
"I always buy fresh flowers for my nan, but my mum and dad can't get to the cemetery as often, because they work full time so they put down artificial flowers.
"Most of the time you can't tell the difference, unless you look really closely."
Mourner Nathan Fox visits the graves of his uncle Gerald Fox, grandad Wilf Fox and nan Jane Sutton.
The 20-year-old, of Bentilee, said: "What about the people who can't afford fresh flowers? My nan has got some artificial flowers and I don't think they should be taken away. It's disgusting."
His mum Julie, aged 42, of Bentilee, said: "Not everyone can afford to put out fresh flowers every time they visit. Artificial flowers are still nice."
Gwen Davies, of Boundary, said: "It's always nice to see flowers on graves, even if some of them aren't real."
Mourners now have until Monday, March 4 to remove any prohibited items from the cemetery.
The signs, installed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, read: "Would visitors please make sure that only fresh cut loose flowers are placed on the Garden of Remembrance and Woodland Gardens and surrounding areas.
"We request any unauthorised items such as silk flowers, ornaments, vases and bedding plants in these areas are removed.
"Any items left in place will be regularly removed by an authorised officer and sensitively disposed of."
The council's policy does not apply to its other cemeteries at Longton, Trentham, Stoke, Burslem, Smallthorne, Fenton, Hanley, and Tunstall.
Tony Oakman, director of adult and neighbourhood services, said: "Artificial flowers can be laid at every cemetery and at the crematorium in Stoke-on-Trent with the exception of the woodland gardens, woodland park and gardens of remembrance at Carmountside.
"These areas are tended by the council's maintenance team and in order to keep their natural appearance, no artificial flowers are allowed, although people can lay fresh cut flowers with the wrappings removed.
"If the items are not removed, the team will put them away for safekeeping."