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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 August, 2003, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Dead woman told to tidy grave
The letter ordered Mrs Thoms to tidy up her plaque
A letter has been sent to a woman who died three years ago ordering her to tidy up her own memorial plaque.

Leeds City Council mistakenly gave Moira Thoms 14 days to remove two vases, each containing a single white rose, from around the plaque at Lawnswood Cemetery where her ashes are scattered.

The council admits it has received over 30 complaints from grieving relatives after sending out 200 similar letters to other families.

But Mrs Thoms' husband Joe, told BBC News Online he could not forgive the council for the distress they have caused his family.

It has been brought to our attention that objects have been placed around the inscription plate - if they are not removed we shall arrange for members of staff to remove them
Leeds City Council letter
He said: "When I got the letter I was numb because it was the shock of my life.

"It has not only upset me, but my family as well.

"I had come to terms with my wife's death but unfortunately this has brought everything back.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

Mr Thoms said his wife's name was even incorrectly spelt in the letter as "Mrs Thomas".

Against regulations

The letter said: "Dear Mrs Thomas, it has been brought to our attention that objects have been placed around the inscription plate.

"This is classed as an illegal memorial and against Leeds City Council regulations.

"The plate is the only type of memorial allowed in this position.

"I would be obliged therefore, if you could arrange for any objects to be removed within 14 days.

"If they are not removed within this time we shall arrange for members of staff to remove them...."

'Learn their lesson'

Heartbroken Mr Thoms contacted the council to say his wife had died from cancer in May 2000 and he had bought the vases and flowers at the cemetery itself.

He added: "I don't want anyone sacked because I know mistakes get made, but maybe the council will learn their lesson."

Kevin Barker, on behalf of Leeds City Council, apologised for the mistake and the strong wording of the letter.

He said: "I send our sincere apologies to Mr Thoms for the upset that we have caused him.

"Obviously the letter has caused great concern to him and I sincerely apologise for that."

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03 Jun 03  |  Somerset
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29 Oct 02  |  England
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22 Jul 02  |  England
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27 Mar 02  |  Wales

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