A couple who planted a memorial tree after the death of their four-day-old son have been told to remove items around it because of health and safety concerns.
Mark Roberts and his partner Joanne Gaskarth, of Louie Pollard Crescent, Great Harwood, planted the tree in Memorial Park 18 months ago following the death of their son Thomas Gaskarth-Roberts in November 2012.
However the parents were left ‘shocked’ after receiving a hand-delivered letter from Hyndburn council ordering them to remove items left at the tree to ensure the safety of workmen.
Policeman Mr Roberts, 37, said the tree was a ‘very personal place’ for himself and 37-year-old nurse Joanne.
He said: “I walk the dogs to Memorial Park twice a day so we decided to get a tree there. Since it was planted the general public have put plastic cars right next to the tree and at Christmas we put some flowers and presents there because even though he passed away he’s still our son. They weren’t doing any harm or causing problems.
“It is very bureaucratic the way they have approached us. We are human beings after all and are still very raw by what happened to our son. They said the reasons behind it was health and safety but that’s absurd. There’s more dog muck causing significant risk to health.
“It’s not over the top or tacky with lights on it. If the workmen are so concerned then they could move the items to one side for a moment.”
Hyndburn Council has apologised for causing any upset to the family.
A spokesman said: “We apologise if the letter has upset any members of the family as this is clearly not our intention.
“When memorial trees are purchased we do offer families the opportunity to have a name plaque installed so that they can remember their loved ones. Unfortunately if people leave other items around the trees they can be damaged when we undertake routine maintenance, such as grass cutting and sometimes the items can pose a health and safety risk to staff using the lawnmowers etc.
“When this situation arises we write to the family offering them the opportunity to remove such items, or alternatively for the council to place them into storage for a month until the family picks them up. This is exactly what we did in this case and we would be very happy to work with members of the family if they would like to talk to us about which of these they would prefer.”