A GRIEVING son has been refused permission for his mother’s headstone because it would ‘prevent cemetery staff from using a ride-on lawnmower over the grave’.

Chris Martin, who lost his mum, Valerie, last year, is desperate to get her memorial installed in time for her birthday in June.

He wants a decorative slab over the grave, as per her wishes. As there are dozens of graves nearby with a similar design, he thought he would have no trouble getting approval for his chosen design.

However, it has been turned down by council staff at East Cemetery in Gloucester Road, leaving Chris confused and upset. He claims a staff member told him initially the design “wouldn’t be a problem”. But when it came to applying for official permission, he was given a different answer.

“They want to drive a lawnmower over the graves in this row to cut the grass. There’s hardly any turf here because of the tree so they could strim the extra bit of grass, but they’re just being awkward. They have over 20 acres to strim, and this row is just 100m extra of grass,” he said.

“To stop somebody having a traditional grave for their loved one is absolutely ridiculous. There are similar ones already in this row.”

Chris claims when he questioned staff over the refusal of permission, he was told he would be able to erect a small fence around the grave instead.

“One of the staff told me she understood people like to mark their own territory and suggested I put a fence around the grave. Well, how can they drive a tractor over the grave then?

“I like where the plot is. They showed us everywhere else first, but they didn’t say I couldn’t have a certain type of headstone, just that I needed permission from the office.

“There are other new memorials with kerbing because they are on ‘first class’ plots. You can do anything you want on these plots, but if they had explained that to us at the time then we would have gone for a first class plot. I’m hoping they might change their mind as they’re just being petty and I think it’s wrong.”

Linda Barker, head of bereavement services at Bournemouth council, said: “We are sorry that the gentleman is unhappy with the site that was selected by the family. There are areas of the cemetery where traditional kerb graves are still available to maintain consistency with our older plots. These would have been offered before the purchase, had it been made clear at the time that this type of grave was desired by the gentleman. In this instance, we would also require joint agreement between the two purchasers of the plot as to the type of grave they required.”