Cemetery in ‘appalling state’ during lockdown - but soon to be tidied up

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 August 2020

Photo taken on Sunday, August 2 showing overgrown grave. Picture: Jenny Ware

Photo taken on Sunday, August 2 showing overgrown grave. Picture: Jenny Ware

Jenny Ware

A Sidmouth woman whose mother is buried in Sidmouth Cemetery said she was ‘heartbroken’ to find the grave almost covered in overgrown grass and weeds.

Overgrown grass and weeds at Sidmouth Cemetery. Picture:Jenny WareOvergrown grass and weeds at Sidmouth Cemetery. Picture:Jenny Ware

Jenny Ware, who is also a town councillor, said she and her partner have to take shears whenever they visit, to cut back the weeds themselves.

She described the state of the cemetery as ‘appalling’ and said: “I was heartbroken when I visited yesterday (July 29) to put flowers on my Mum’s grave.

“She went ‘to sleep’ 66 years ago - I was five years old, so her resting place is very dear and precious to me, and the only place that I that I can go and have a ‘chat’.

“The whole area is overgrown with weeds, grasses and the dreaded ragwort.

Sidmouth cemetery during lockdown. Picture: Jenny WareSidmouth cemetery during lockdown. Picture: Jenny Ware

“I truly feel that East Devon District Council (EDDC) only watch their purse strings now, and have pushed aside the values that the people in the Sid Valley have loved and cherished over the years.”

She added that she understood that the council’s ‘rewilding’ policy, but said: “There are many Blue Heart designated areas within the Sid Valley which I do embrace. “However, in these difficult times that we have had to face this year, human beings need nurturing - then in fruition we can nurture the land around us and embrace what we hold so dear.

A spokesperson for EDDC said: “Planned maintenance work is scheduled to be carried out at Sidmouth cemetery next week.

“Some older sections of the cemetery have been left this year to re-wild but our Streetscene team will always ensure pathways and newer headstones are kept clear.”

Overgrown graves at Sidmouth Cemetery. Picture: Jenny WareOvergrown graves at Sidmouth Cemetery. Picture: Jenny Ware

Town and county councillor Stuart Hughes said he had also heard concerns about the state of the cemetery.

He said: “I don’t believe the district’s idea of rewilding is a policy (which hasn’t been consulted on) that should be implemented in a cemetery.

“There is at present an infestation of ticks in long grass and unkempt areas so anyone wishing to carry out any work - lay flowers, etc on a grave, - would have no alternative but to walk through the long grass wild area.

“There’s many noxious weeds such as ragwort in the cemetery - it would be interesting to see what readers of the Herald think.”

Jenny Ware's mother's grave after she had tidied it up.  Picture: Jenny WareJenny Ware's mother's grave after she had tidied it up. Picture: Jenny Ware


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