A woman says health and safety has gone mad after a church told visitors to remove pot plants from graves. Teresa Webber was fuming after discovering a note on a gravestone at St Mary’s Churchyard, in Dedham, Essex, telling her it did not comply with regulations. The two pot plants she had placed had been taken away. The vicar, the Rev Gerard Moate, said they had been removed in case they broke and the groundsmen cut by flying shards while they were mowing the grass.
Mrs Webber, of Bargate Lane, Dedham, had put the plants on the grave of her father and brother, Peter and Derek Starling. She said: “My mother bought them last time she was down here to put on the graves. I went there this morning and found a note. I was fuming. I just thought ‘you’re joking aren’t you?’ This is health and safety gone bananas.”
The note said it was with regret some items had been removed to confirm with church regulations. It added the plants could be collected from the church office. Mrs Webber, 45, said she could not understand how the pot plants posed a danger. She was alerted to the card after a friend, who has a relative buried at the churchyard, contacted her to say it had happened to him. She said she would be sending a letter to the Church of England’s Chelmsford diocese to express her anger.
Mr Moate said the church was following Diocesan regulations, which were in place as more frequently people were leaving objects at graves that were not safe. He said the groundsmen could be at risk of flying shards if using a mower on the grass around the graves. He said: “If a pot is made of terracotta but they end up getting broken and the pieces get in the grass, someone can get hurt.” Mr Moate added: “People think a grave is a private space, but it is private grief in a public place. Trying to negotiate that with people when they are hurt is very difficult and that hurt can turn to anger.”