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Battling OAP hails ‘victory for common sense’

COUNCIL DISPUTE ... Joe Grant with the decorative surround at the graveside of wife Blanche.

COUNCIL DISPUTE ... Joe Grant with the decorative surround at the graveside of wife Blanche.

A BATTLING pensioner has been granted his wish for a graveside memorial to his beloved wife to remain in place.

For the last 18 months, Joe Grant, 85, has been in dispute with South Tyneside Council over the length of a decorative surround placed around his late wife Blanche’s grave in Harton Cemetery, South Shields.

Before her death in June 2012 at the age of 80, Mr Grant spent more than a decade caring for his dementia-stricken wife and, as a tribute, bought a 5ft-long ornamental surround for her grave.

But South Tyneside Council wanted the size of the surround reduced – as there is a 3ft limit on the length of ‘ornamental gardens’ in that part of the cemetery.

Mr Grant refused to budge – despite the council recently giving him a two-month deadline to carry out the work.

Now the local authority has agreed to review its original decision after taking account of Mr Grant’s “particular circumstances”.

Today Mr Grant, of Gosforth Avenue, South Shields, hailed the move a “victory for common sense” and thanked the borough public for their support.

He added: “When I got the news it felt like such a weight had been taken off my mind.

“This has been going on for so long and it has been so stressful.

“I would have backed down if I had been in the wrong, but I knew that right was on my side.

“All I was ever trying to do was pay a proper tribute to Blanche, so I fought on.

“I was never going to back down, no matter what. I would have fought to the very end, and I want to thank the council for seeing sense in the end. I think it’s a victory for common sense.

“I also want to thank the public of South Tyneside for their continued support.

“I’m always getting stopped in the street by people saying they were on my side over this. I really appreciated that.

“I’m also aware that Coun John Wood had intervened on my behalf, which I am very grateful for.”

Mr Grant also passed on his thanks to Whiteleas Social Club for the “tremendous backing” of members there.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We appreciate this is a very delicate matter.

“We have spoken at length with Mr Grant, and are currently reviewing the situation, taking into account this particular set of circumstances.”

Rules and regulations concerning headstones were first brought into force at Harton Cemetery in 1979.

And limitations on the size of decorative surrounds was introduced around six or seven years ago.

Before this, people were not allowed to have any decorative features on the grave, only the memorial stone.

It was introduced to enable loved ones to have space to place ornaments and decorative features.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

 

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