Group of 15 protest council notice to remove unauthorised tributes at graves

Protestors took to Barnstaple High Street on Friday over an ultimatum to remove unauthorised tributes from graves in a town cemetery.

The protest came off the back of a petition signed by more than 2,500 people asking North Devon Council to overturn the 90-day notice issued earlier this month.

A group of around 15 protested the notice issued by North Devon CouncilA group of around 15 protested the notice issued by North Devon Council

After meeting in Barnstaple Square, the group of 15 walked down the High Street before lying a banner on the ground. People could write messages of support before it was paraded further down the street.

One grave affected by the notice is that of Katie Gammon, who died in August 2015 at the age of 17 after a lengthy battle with cystic fibrosis.

Protestors wrote messages on the banners in the High Street.Protestors wrote messages on the banners in the High Street.

Katie’s mother, Angie Hart, said: “It just can’t be done – it’s got to stay.

“We wanted something nice and bright and beautiful, so hopefully this protest works, and if not it’s not going to be the end.

The banners were walked down the High Street on Friday afternoon.The banners were walked down the High Street on Friday afternoon.

“We’re very grateful so many people have signed the petition and I didn’t expect anything less.

“She was a popular girl, well known in the area and if you look on the petition, people from everywhere have all signed it.”

Protestors wrote messages on two banners in the High Street.Protestors wrote messages on two banners in the High Street.

Earlier this month, the council wrote to 27 people who have added flowers, tributes and covers to graves at Bear Street Cemetery giving them 90 days to remove tributes which aren’t on or touching the headstone.

It says graves in the ‘lawned area’ of the cemetery can only have tributes on or covering the headstone, whereas some cover the length of the grave.

Bear Street Cemetery. Picture: Andy KeebleBear Street Cemetery. Picture: Andy Keeble

North Devon Council said it was not asking all memorials and tributes to be removed.

A statement said: “We understand this is a very sensitive issue but we want to make it clear that we are only asking for tributes and memorials to be moved onto or touching the headstone, not to be removed completely.

“There are only a handful of graves left in the whole cemetery where this needs to be done and in some cases, it’s only one or two items that need to be moved up.”