A HIGHLY controversial policy to remove tributes and other items from peoples’ graves is to be implemented across a Gwent county.

Caerphilly council says its so-called "lawn policy" which will require unauthorised items such as lanterns, flower pots and chippings to be removed from graves is to be put into force at all ten of its cemeteries.

The council faced opposition over the way it handled the policy at Bedwellty Cemetery a year ago, after relatives contacted the Argus saying their graves had been altered and items smashed.

Relatives had said they had received little warning of the move.

Cabinet member for community and leisure services Dave Poole said the council recognises there is opposition and wants to address the matter in a way that will not cause offence or distress to any families.

“This is an extremely emotive issue, but we firmly believe that a cemetery should be a place of quiet reflection in well-maintained, dignified surroundings," he said.

According to the authority, the council is to hold inspections over the coming months and, if appropriate, will send letters to relatives asking them to remove any unauthorised items that were identified.

The council claims "grave personalisation" causes a health and safety risk to staff and visitors because of trip hazards caused by small fences and ornaments.

It says concerns have been expressed about the practice and the council has received numerous complaints.

Markham man Walter Hoskins's grandson Ryan Trewartha, who died aged 21, is buried at Bedwellty.

He said a surround on Ryan's grave was removed and put in a skip.

"They haven't apologised to us for what they have done, and they haven't reimbursed us for what they have done to people's ornaments," he said.

Blackwood independent town councillor Delwyn Davies said he hopes that the council will consult with the people concerned.

"They should be consulting with family members giving them proper notice of what they are doing," he said.

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly council, said: "The council must be very careful to ensure it does not enforce its policy in a high-handed and insensitive way.

"It is vital that the council communicates with the relatives in the correct way."