Council bosses have defended removing decorations from a baby’s grave - over health and safety fears.
Craig McDonald and Ebony Walker were left devastated when they discovered the white stones had been removed from their daughter’s grave by Accrington Cemetery staff without their knowledge.
The heartbroken couple, who until recently lived in Clayton-le-Moors, lost their daughter Niamh Ellen McDonald in April this year - 22 weeks into the pregnancy.
She was buried in the infant garden at the cemetery with small decorative stones and flowers placed around the grave to ‘make it look more pretty’.
Cemetery chiefs say small objects could get caught up in lawnmowers and possibly lead to injury.
Support worker Craig, 27, said they were ‘shocked’ when they discovered what had happened.
He said: “We put in a headstone and they told us we could dig a little garden 12 inches in front of it and decorate it, but they didn’t tell us that we couldn’t put any stones in there.
“They’ve just come along and taken the stones. Everything else is left as it was.
“If they’d asked us then we wouldn’t have minded, but they didn’t even ask for our permission. They have just blatantly gone and disrespected her and took the stones and chucked them away.
“We want it to look nice for her. We can’t buy her clothes and make her look pretty but we can try our best to make the plot look nice. We are only just getting round to being normal again and by doing this they have dragged it all back up again.”
Craig, who now lives in Haslingden with Ebony and their three-year-old daughter Hennie, added: “I just want them to have more respect for the people buried there.
“They are people’s loved ones and that’s the only place we could go to spend time with our daughter.”
Craig, who is studying to become a nurse at Blackburn College, said he is now looking to set up an online petition to make it illegal for council staff to remove items from graves without the family’s permission.
Coun Ken Moss, Hyndburn council’s cabinet member for cemeteries, explained the policy.
He said: “I’m so sorry the family are upset, my heart goes out to them and the last thing anyone here would want to do is cause them any further distress.
“The reason chippings are not allowed on any lawned graves in our cemeteries is that they spread and become embedded into the grass and can then be caught by the mowers and strimmers and flung with some force, with the potential to cause harm to people, vehicles, other headstones in the area and also damage to the equipment.”