Janice Poulson and her sister Annette Moules are angry at a £58 cemetery fee charged by the council to approve the inscription on their fathers headstone.

Ipswich: Angry sisters accuse borough council of cashing in

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
1.00 PM

IPSWICH: Angry sisters have accused the borough council of cashing in on people’s grief after they were forced to pay for the approval to add their dad’s name to his wife’s gravestone.

Annette Moules and her sister Janice Poulson lost their 91-year-old father Sydney Ogilvie on September 25.

Honouring his wishes, the pair buried him in the plot he bought to bury his wife Patricia, who passed away in 1995 aged 69, at Ipswich Lawn Cemetery off Cemetery Lane.

But when it came to paying the bill for re-erecting their mum’s headstone – adding their dad’s name, the date he passed away and the phrase “loving husband, father and grandad” – the pair were “outraged” to discover they would be charged £58 plus VAT for checking the wording.

A council spokesman said the charge is levied across the UK and includes checks to ensure the headstones are placed correctly on the right grave with acceptable wording.

Mrs Moules, of Lancing Avenue, Ipswich, told The Star she felt the council was profiteering and “taking advantage of people’s grief”.

The 67-year-old said: “I object to having to pay for the council to tell me the wording I have chosen for my father’s headstone is acceptable.They are preying on people’s grief.

“I am a pensioner. Luckily we can afford it but there may be other people who can’t and this could put them off getting a headstone.

“It is bad enough losing someone you love without being ripped off while you try to lay them to rest.”

The Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “We certainly do not want to take advantage of people’s grief, far from it.

“We are aware it is a particularly sensitive time for people and we do try to handle all business at cemeteries with the utmost sensitivity.”

He said the £58 fee covers the cost of erecting or re-erecting a headstone – checking the owner has actually authorised the change, that the headstone is put on the correct grave and that the wording is acceptable and not offensive. The fee also pays for a council worker to go out and make sure the headstone goes up correctly.

What do you think? Is the fee for the checks fair? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail star letters@archant.co.uk