Smoking mourners chased into funeral for stubbing cigarettes in flower pots

Two mourners were left ‘disgusted’ after a pair of council enforcement officers fined them £80 for ‘dropping’ their cigarette butts before heading into a funeral.

John Harpur, 68, and Ann Bentley, in her 60s, say the duo ‘lay in wait’ across the road from the cemetery gates as they prepared to say their final goodbyes to friend Dougie Wise, 73,

When they finished smoking by the entrance to Alderson and Horan funeral home, in Burnley, they said they put the ends in two flower pots.

CCTV footage then shows the officers leap out of their car and ran to confront them about littering. Ann said one even ‘came chasing after’ her as she stepped back inside the funeral home. Both were issued fixed penalty fines (FPNs) last Thursday.

Ann said: ‘John and I had just wanted a quick cigarette before going inside the funeral home.

‘We finished smoking and left the butts in two plant containers by the doorway and out of nowhere the two enforcement officers appeared.

‘They must have lay in wait because they came after us so fast.

‘One officer spoke to John first and accused us of littering, saying we’d dropped our butts on the pavement and not in the plant pots.

‘I’d already gone inside by this point but the other officer just came chasing after me. I couldn’t believe it when she told me I was being handed an £80 fine.

‘I think it’s disgusting the way we were treated. How low can you go picking on mourners at a funeral?’

John said the enforcement officers wouldn’t listen when he insisted the cigarette butts had not been dropped on the floor.

He added: ‘I’m disgusted they chose to hang around outside a funeral home. I’ve sent a strongly-worded letter to the council and I expect the two enforcement officers to be disciplined.’

The manager of the funeral home, Steve Alderson, said he had similarly reported the ‘disrespectful’ officers to the council and pointed out Ann and John couldn’t have been littering because the flower pots are ‘private property’.

Burnley Council has since apologised and cancelled the fines.

A spokesman said: ‘We resolved this situation as soon as we were made aware of the matter and, in accordance with our procedures, the FPNs were immediately cancelled.

‘We apologise to the two people involved for any upset this caused and we’ve sent flowers to Ann as a way of saying sorry.’