Anger as council bags up tributes to Ashill murder victim Catherine Wells-Burr

Family and friends of Catherine Wells-Burr gathered in Ashill to protest at the removal of tributes.

Family and friends of Catherine Wells-Burr gathered in Ashill to protest at the removal of tributes.

First published in Taunton Somerset County Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

THE family of murdered Catherine Wells-Burr reacted with shock after a council worker prepared to throw away tributes with the rubbish.

Flowers, cards, candles and photos placed in Thickthorn Lane, Ashill, where Catherine’s body was found in a burnt out car on September 12, had been bagged up ready for disposal, say her family.

Her parents, Jayne and Phil, and sister Leanne, who visit the site daily, arrived just before the workman drove off.

Mrs Wells-Burr, who sorted through the bags to salvage what she could, said: “I felt sick having to go through the bags.

“We found some lovely bouquets which had only been placed there on Saturday by friends who had come down from London.

“I know some of the flowers had died but just seeing them there showed us how much Catherine was loved by so many people.

“Every day there was something new there.”

She added: “We’ve been treating that spot as Catherine’s last resting place and we go there every day to lay flowers and light little candles and think about her.

“We know it’s not forever but it’s all we’ve got at the moment because Catherine’s body hasn’t been released and we haven’t been able to have a funeral.

“This was our special spot but it’s been tarnished by what has happened.”

It is believed the items were removed after someone complained to South Somerset District Council that cellophane wrapping around the flowers was frightening horses.

But Mr Wells-Burr said: “The flowers and candles weren’t doing any harm to anyone.”

Catherine’s grandmother, Veron-ica Wells-Burr, said: “We don’t understand why anyone would be so heartless and uncaring by spoiling this little tribute site for us.”

Around 50 family and friends gathered at Thickthorn Lane on Sunday, with many laying fresh tributes to Catherine.

South Somerset District Council said: “We fully understand the sensitivity of the situation but the council considers it acted in best faith and conducted things as sympathetically as possible.”

The council’s statement added that the site was cleared of items including “dead flowers and their wrappings” following a “litter issue” complaint.

The authority added: “That left a loose photo there with plastic flowers and butterflies, candles and candlestick holders and some small toy animals.

“In the road itself there was some greenery, flowers and candles among the leaves, and other detritus that was picked up, the candles being put on the verge.

“Our operatives put all the items together and fixed the photo so it didn’t blow away.

“As the authority responsible for litter collection, we only responded to the call as a litter complaint and acted accordingly to remove any obvious litter from the area, leaving items which we believed to be part of the memorial.”

Comments (1)

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1:18pm Wed 5 Dec 12

localmcnocal says...

I don't wish to be unsympathetic, but this spot is a road/public place, not a grave yard memorial. Some time has passed, it is totally appropiate to move the flowers off the road. thease tributes are a modern phenomen, it is not a given right for familes to hae memorials on the side of roads, though i sympasis with their feelings.

Perhaps the council should have comunicated its intentions before hand, giving people chance to resite the flowers rather than the impresion of them being thrown away, this is i am guessing what may have been upsetting. Its a shame the council cant enforce a standard of leaving memorials for 2 weeks then clearing them away, if this was accepted as standard praactice, people would not take such offence if this was the norm.
I don't wish to be unsympathetic, but this spot is a road/public place, not a grave yard memorial. Some time has passed, it is totally appropiate to move the flowers off the road. thease tributes are a modern phenomen, it is not a given right for familes to hae memorials on the side of roads, though i sympasis with their feelings. Perhaps the council should have comunicated its intentions before hand, giving people chance to resite the flowers rather than the impresion of them being thrown away, this is i am guessing what may have been upsetting. Its a shame the council cant enforce a standard of leaving memorials for 2 weeks then clearing them away, if this was accepted as standard praactice, people would not take such offence if this was the norm. localmcnocal
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