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Tonight (Tuesday) Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are set to ratify new rules and regulations for Council owned cemeteries across the Borough.

The new rules would make all Council owned cemeteries ‘lawn only’, meaning that families with loved ones buried in certain areas may have to remove surrounds and personal items from the graves of their family members.

Local families claim that they have not been consulted on the new rules and are planning a protest at the meeting.

One Ballymoney woman, who did not wish to be named, told The Times that there are over 100 graves at Ballymoney’s Knock Road Cemetery that would be affected by the new rules.

“My father was buried in 2013, and at the time we as a family were not made aware that we were not permitted to put a surround on
his grave.

“This surround cost a lot of money, and it would break my mother’s heart if we had to take it away.

“We tend to this grave on a weekly basis, we cut the grass and keep it tidy - these new rules have come completely out of the blue.”

“I was only made aware of these new rules through an article in the paper which highlighted the plight of a Coleraine family.

“There has been no consultation with families, I just think Council are trying to introduce these rules on the quiet,” said the distressed Ballymoney woman.

Coleraine woman Tracey McCrudden set up a Facebook page highlighting the new rules, after her family was approached by Council officials asking them to remove artificial turf from her mother’s grave.

Speaking to The Times on Monday, Tracy said that she had been contacted by ‘numerous families’ all concerned about the new rules being ‘forced upon families’.

“We are meeting with a Council director prior to Tuesday’s Council meeting. I just hope that he sees sense and defers the decision until families have been consulted.”

In a statement, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough said: “Council is harmonising the existing rules and regulations which currently exist in the legacy council areas, to ensure there is a standard approach to all future purchases.

“Officers will be working with those families who are directly affected to ensure that these changes are sensitively discussed.

“The recommendation to make these changes to surrounds and lawn areas was approved by the Environmental Services committee held on Tuesday 2nd February, which is yet to be ratified by full Council on Tuesday evening.”