FAMILIES of stillborn babies were left distressed when tributes to their loved ones were moved at Utley cemetery.

Shocked parents found memorials at the ‘Sleeping Baby’ area piled nearby while Bradford Council staff carried out improvements.

Council boss Kersten England has now apologised that staff who – working with the best intentions – did not warn relatives.

She spoke after Keighley MP Robbie Moore and town councillor Clare Abberton raised concerns about the clearance of the makeshift memorials while the area was relaid with paving stones.

Mr Moore said:“The insensitivity shown towards these graves have added to the grief of the families who lost their children in awful circumstances. The memorials they created commemorated the lives their children could have led.

“The council have assured me that they were renovating the area with the best intentions. They acknowledge they should have given notice to the families and I hope they will learn from their mistake.”

Cllr Abberton said she and Mr Moore had since met with Keighley clergyman the Rev Jonathan Pritchard, parents, the Sunbeam Support Group, and Utley cemetery rep John Elsbury.

She added: “We are now working with all concerned to ensure we can make this area into a peaceful, restful and respectful resting place for all concerned.”

Responding to Mr Moore, the council said its Bereavement Service was sorry to hear of families’ distress over improvements to the babies’ communal burial area.

The council said: “Following the necessary construction of new shared graves nearby, the opportunity was taken to make improvements by flagging part of the baby grave area to prevent it being regularly overgrown.  

“Mementoes on the graves had to be moved to prevent damage or loss and were respectfully re-located behind the grave. The Service is confident that the appearance of this section of the cemetery will be greatly improved.

“All staff realise that losing a child is incredibly hard and that any items left on the shared graves are very important to people.  The work was carried out with a genuine intention to make the area more presentable for those wishing to leave memorabilia and with no intent to cause distress.

“Please pass on our sincere apologies for any distress that we have inadvertently caused.”