Council called a Grinch over cemetery stoush
A GRIEVING mother trying to spend Christmas by her daughter's grave has accused Townsville City Council of playing the Grinch, after she was forced to take down festive decorations at the cemetery.
Julie Baker's daughter Kodah Lampton, 23, was laid to rest at Belgian Gardens Lawn Cemetery after taking her own life in March this year.
Ms Baker's large family has since spent nearly every Sunday beside the tombstone, setting up a gazebo, tables and a barbecue to spend time with their loved one.
Facing the reality of spending her first Christmas without her daughter, Ms Baker said she approached the council for permission to decorate the tombstone.
The permission was granted and on Sunday the family placed a Christmas tree, two reindeer, 10 path lights and three snowmen in the grass patch in front of Kodah's tombstone.
But by 8.45am on Monday, Ms Baker had been told to take them down that afternoon.
"I feel very upset and I was at work on my own when I got the phone call and I burst out crying," she said.
"We always have solar lights along her headstone anyway and they had never removed them.
"I wouldn't be the only one that would want to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones but we are not allowed to because of the stupid policies."
Ms Baker pleaded with the council to keep the decorations up until the end of December but was forced to scale the display back after being told it was against cemetery rules.
However, the council said Ms Baker put up the Christmas decorations a week earlier than agreed.
A council spokesman also said officers had "continued to receive abuse" from members of the Baker family "while respectfully doing their job" and trying to maintain the cemetery for public use.
"Council officers advised the family that the Christmas tree and reindeer could remain in place earlier than originally agreed and other items could remain around the gravestone," he said.
"Despite reaching an agreement with council on a way forward, the family have chosen to do as they please.
"As such, council officers made contact with the family to request they abide by the original agreement."
Ms Baker said despite the standoff with the council, the family looked forward to spending Christmas Day with Kodah at the cemetery.
"We will go down (to the cemetery) and we will take gazebos and we will have a cold room with food in it and we will spend from lunch time to 6pm with Kodah," Ms Baker said.
"We don't insult anyone by being by there and there are no close graves around Kodah and we are very respectful of that and we always clean up that area just like we did that on her birthday."
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