Cemetery bosses in St Albans are clamping down on items that are left on graves – by vowing to remove anything that’s breakable or dangerous.

Visitors to the council’s cemeteries often bring ornaments, pot plants or even solar-powered lights to leave on the graves of their loved ones.

But council officials say the items left behind – particularly breakable items – can pose a danger to other visitors and staff.

They say cemetery workers using strimmers around the graves have been injured by flying pieces of broken glass.

Now it has been made clear in their revised ‘cemeteries information and regulations’ that items made of glass, pottery, tin or plastic will be removed without notice.

The ban also extends to garden hooks, bricks, blocks, wire mesh or plastic fences.

And, says the document, any other items – not banned from the cemetery – must be within the confines of the area permitted and not on walkways or other nearby graves.

The move is said to have followed complaints of tributes overflowing onto adjoining plots or blocking walkways between graves.

However the document also makes it clear that ‘informal’ items will be allowed on children’s graves – so long as they are suitably  maintained and don’t obstruct maintenance.

And if cemetery staff do spot something that is broken on a child’s grave they will photograph it and write to the family, before taking anything away.

“Graves within the children’s area may be adorned with informal items, such as balloons, flags and decorative items, as long as they are placed within and do not extend beyond the boundary of the plot,” it says.

“The decorative items will only be removed by the council if they obstruct the maintenance of the cemetery or are not suitably maintained.”

The revised ‘cemeteries information and regulations’ were considered by a meeting of St Albans Council’s community, environment and sport scrutiny committee earlier this month (November 7).

Following the meeting, committee chairman Cllr Annie Brewster said: “I can see this is a highly emotive issue and I can perfectly understand how sensitive officers need to be.

“Finding something removed from one’s relative’s grave can be hugely disturbing so I applaud the open door approach there is at the Hatfield Road office so advice can be sought in advance.

“For example, building an unbreakable granite vase into the design of the memorial means flowers can be changed as frequently as visitors wish and there is no damage to the environment from plastics and sharp objects.

“Clearly, the cemetery officers are sympathetic to relatives’ feelings and use sensible discretion. Rules can seem harsh unless narrative of why they are there is shared.”