SOLIHULL Council has been accused of cashing in on grief over the prices it charges for benches and brass plaques at Widney Manor Cemetery.
A local resident said he couldn’t believe it when a bill for nearly £1,500 from Solihull Council landed on his doormat for the five year renewal of a lease on a bench and four brass plaques placed there in memory of members of his family he’d lost.
“They’re wanting all this money – for nothing!” he said.
“The bench does nothing, it just sits there. The council doesn’t even maintain it, although people splash a bit of varnish on them, they never own the bench, the council does.
“It would be cheaper if I bought a bench and brass plaques myself – it’s daylight robbery.”
Memorial benches with a plaque can be leased from the council at £355 each for a a five year term.
Any additional plaques placed on the bench cost a further £355 each, again for a five year term.
At the end of the period, the council sends in a bill for a renewal of the lease.
The resident initially paid for a bench and plaque five years ago to commemorate his wife, who had died of cancer.
“All they are doing is preying on people’s bereavement,” said the resident, who asked not to be named.
A spokesperson for Solihull Council said: “After the death of a loved one, families often want to spend time at the cemetery so commemorative benches can be a lovely way of remembering relatives and friends.
“However, over time, benches often deteriorate and circumstances may change. For these reasons, Solihull Council, like most local authorities, offers memorials on a fixed basis – ten years for individual benches and five years for communal benches.
“This also gives more people the opportunity to commemorate their loved ones in this way.
“If a family wants to continue beyond the initial term, they can of course take another lease.
“Lastly, any benches that are removed that are still in good condition are donated to local charities.”