‘Sidmouth Cemetery deserves more care’

PUBLISHED: 18:30 01 August 2017

The lower section of Sidmouth Cemetery has been allowed to grow into a wildlife habitat

The lower section of Sidmouth Cemetery has been allowed to grow into a wildlife habitat

Archant

A Sidmothian ‘extremely saddened’ to see grass ‘long enough to bale hay’ growing around her family’s graves claims the town’s cemetery deserves better.

Sandra Gigg maintains her 19-year-old daughter Jodie's grave in Sidmouth Cemetery. Sidmouth Herald.Sandra Gigg maintains her 19-year-old daughter Jodie's grave in Sidmouth Cemetery. Sidmouth Herald.

It was too upsetting for Sandra Gigg to see her 19-year-old daughter Jodie’s grave at Sidmouth Cemetery in ‘such a mess’, so she bought a petrol mower to tend to it.

With other families brought to tears by the state of tributes to their loved ones, or paying private gardeners for the work, she is urging East Devon District Council (EDDC) to reassess its priorities.

The Winslade Road resident, who plans to be buried in the cemetery, said: “We invested in a petrol mower to cut our daughter Jodie’s grave as it was too upsetting to see her special place in such a mess. We now cut my parents’, two sets of grandparents’, father-in-law’s, and aunts’ and uncles’ graves as we can’t stand the mess.

“This is a time-consuming job, with great effort to get the mower to site, but something we feel we have to do.

“I have had on more than one occasion people stopping me and asking what has happened to the upkeep – they have travelled long distances to visit family members, only to find the grave in an appalling state, and have been in tears at the sight.”

Mrs Gigg said the situation has worsened since she buried her daughter a decade ago. She spoke out after Councillor Stuart Hughes complained about the state of the gardens at Knowle last week.

The grass at Sidmouth Cemetery was cut this week, but Mrs Gigg, 57, said it often grows to waist-height, making it impossible to see headstones or the flowers that have been arranged. As the clippings are no longer collected, she said it was hard to say if the cemetery looks better or worse after it is cut.

An EDDC spokeswoman said its budgets had been impacted by austerity and the grass at the cemetery is now cut every four weeks, except for the Victorian section, which is left uncut to encourage meadow grass and wildflowers. She added: “With current resources we would be unable to cut the area more frequently or collect the grass clippings. Our gardeners are exceptionally busy at this time of year and we prioritise areas of green space that are more frequently used and enjoyed by our residents.

“If residents are concerned about our green spaces, they can email us at StreetSceneOPS@eastdevon.gov.uk.”


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