A GRIEVING family threatened to stage a cemetery protest over demands that a highly decorated grave to three relatives must be removed.

The elaborate plot marks the resting place of traveller James Curtis' niece, father and brother.

The grave in Chipping Norton Cemetery features flowers, lanterns, a decking kerb, gravel and artificial grass which, Mr Curtis, said is in keeping with traveller tradition.

However, Chipping Norton Town Council threatened him with action to remove the extravagant display.

He said if that were to happen, he would picket the grave in his wheelchair all day and obstruct the removal.

The council backed down, but said the artificial turf still has to go.

Mr Curtis, who lives in the town, said: "It's just flowers, really. There's flowers and a border of decking we put up to keep the gravel in.

"We first got a letter a few years back when it was just my niece down there. But my brother died in July 2020 so now it's the grave of my brother, my dad and my niece. Then we had another letter, saying the tributes are overbearing."

He added: "It's prejudice. Next to it there's a grave with hanging baskets. Hanging baskets in a graveyard are not appropriate, but I'm not going to get into a tit-for-tat row.

"They had said we had to move the tributes by next Thursday, June 30. I'm in a wheelchair and said I was going to stay there and not move.

"It was disgusting. They give us grief all the time. They got us moved from the town and they won't let it rest."

Following his protest, the town council relented and told him he could keep the flowers but must still remove the artificial grass.

Mr Curtis said he was still not satisfied.

"I'm not really happy because we had to argue for it," he said. "With travellers, we like to have lots of kerbing around graves. There's other travellers in the cemetery and they've all got marble and things like that.

"It's bullying."

Chipping Norton Town Council said no offence was intended and it was simply enforcing regulations.

Town clerk Luci Ashbourne said: "I can confirm that we received no communication from the family regarding this, nor were we informed that the reason the kerb-sets had been installed was because of particular traditions and cultures for burials.

"The request to remove from us was simply made because the kerb-sets breach the Council's standard regulations."

But, she added: "We did, however, look again once we realised the reason why.

"We have been reading through this paper - Cemetery Culture and Traditions (gypsy-traveller.org) - and will report back to council with a suggested amendment to the regulations so we can facilitate cultural practices and traditions as far as possible.

"It would have been helpful for us to have been made aware before the kerbs and items were installed, and then we could have proactively managed it.

"I can assure you that no offence was intended."