GRIEVING families have been left distraught after roses planted in memory of their loved ones were dug up without any notice.

The rose garden, at Pleasington Cemetry, in Blackburn, had been a place of comfort for bereaved relatives, where their could remember those who had passed away.

But Blackburn with Darwen Council has removed the roses, claiming it is more sustainable to have evergreen shrubs.

Some of the flowers had been specifically donated in memory of individuals whose ashes were scattered on the garden.

One woman, who regularly visits the site, where her sister’s ashes were scattered, said she was annoyed that families had not been informed before the plants were taken away.

She said: “I went to the cemetery for my sister’s birthday. It is very upsetting that the roses have gone because it is supposed to be a rememberance place.

“It is not good for relatives to go up there now and see shrubs instead of roses.”

But when she complained to workers at the cemetery she said they told her the shrubs were more cost effective.

A mother and son visiting the garden said they were also concerned the changes would affect the remaining flower beds, where the ashes of their late husband and father were spread.

The man said: “I would be concerned if they started messing around with the flower bed where my dad’s ashes are spread.”

Michael Lee, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Conservatives said: “I cannot believe this. If people have a specific area to have their ashes spread they should know that they are going to be there for some time.

“The council should also not use cost effectiveness as an excuse for changing.”

Coun Faryad Hussain, executive member for environmental improvement and sustainability at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We have planted shrubs because we found the roses were not growing properly, because of the inclement weather and poor soil.

“The plaques are still there on each of the beds.”