Distress for families as Utley cemetery is cleared of stillborn memorials

The families of stillborn babies in Utley have expressed concern at the clearance of memorials in the town’s cemetery. The ‘Sleeping Baby’ area of the cemetery was undergoing improvement works when some families noticed their memorials had been stripped from the graveyard and piled up nearby.

Some families observed council workers relaying the area with paving stones, moving makeshift memorials that had been laid by families. Some of the affected families contacted their local MP, Robbie Moore, to express their concerns.

Family members of the stillborn babies received no notification of the work taking place leading families to accuse the council of insensitivity. On a call with Bradford City Council’s CEO, Kersten England, Robbie raised the issue and she apologised on behalf of the council.

Town Councillor Clare Abberton, who represents Spring Gardens and Utley on Keighley Town Council, met with the MP for Keighley and Ilkley, Robbie Moore, on Saturday (July 18th) to discuss the concerns raised by the families and love ones of the stillborn children. Robbie raised his concerns with Bradford City Council who manage the cemetery.

Robbie said:

“The insensitivity shown towards these graves while renovation works took place have added to the grief of the families who have lost their children in awful circumstances. The memorials they created were their way of commemorating the lives their children could have led.

“I have now spoken to Bradford City Council who have assured me that they were renovating the area with the best intentions. They acknowledge that they should have given notice to the families and I hope they will learn from their mistake on this matter.”

Councillor Abberton said:

"After meeting with Robbie Moore MP on Saturday, the Rev Jonathon Pritchard, Keighley's Town Priest, and I were able to meet with some of the parents and families of those affected, Sunbeam Support Group and John Elsbury from Utley Cemetery yesterday.  

“Both of the meetings were well attended and a great deal of useful conversations were had.  We are now actively working with all concerned and of course, Bradford Metropolitan Council to ensure we can make this area into the kind of peaceful, restful and respectful resting place for all concerned."