Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Graves look messy after mowing, say councillors

GRAVES in Wargrave have been left looking untidy after the grass was cut, say parish councillors.

They also say that shrubs were damaged during the work at St Mary’s churchyard and the Chalk Pit cemetery.

The graves are mown regularly during the year by volunteers and a team from nearby Yeldall Manor and the work is paid for through donations raised by the Friends of the Cemetery group.

However, councillors say that grass clippings were left on graves and the mowers went over decorative shrubs.

Speaking at a meeting of the parish council, Councillor Marion Pope said: “I went down to put some flowers on my parents’ and brother’s graves and was upset, to put it bluntly.

“The grass on the right-hand side has been cut beautifully but it hasn’t been collected up and has formed a matted layer over the graves. It looks disgusting. I stood there and could have cried. Other people have said the same.

“If it’s going to be cut it does need to be cleaned up. It took me ages to get it off my parents’ grave and it was also on my husband’s parents’ and his family’s graves.”

Council chairman Richard Bush said a small bush he had been looking after at his parents’ graves had been destroyed.

He said: “They cut right through my parents’ grave where there was a lovely little bush growing and we tended it.”

He said he complained to cemetery warden Peter Mayes and Rev John Cook, the vicar of Wargrave, who went to see the mess for himself.

Parish clerk Stephen Hedges said: “One of our councillors regularly mows the large open area and the grave areas are cut under a contract. We can feed this back to the church parochial church council. I’ve heard from others that the standard of the cut has changed over the past year.”

Mr Mayes said: “The mowing arrangements are straightforward. We use local people, the Yeldall Manor team, who have proved excellent.

“This work is funded largely by voluntary donations organised by the Friends of the Cemetery and supplemented by church funds and a small grant from the parish council. The Friends do a remarkably good job in fund-raising.

“We welcome comments from those who have family graves. Over the past three years they have all been complimentary. However, I will certainly pass on the comments to the team.”

Mr Mayes said a more important issue was the many grave decorations that were not allowed under the Oxford diocese rules. He said: “Before burial permission is granted, family representatives sign a document agreeing to follow these regulations, which lay down strict constraints on a wide range of issues.

“Regrettably, some families renege on this undertaking and three years ago the situation had deteriorated to the extent that the diocese issued a faculty.

“This ordered the removal of decorative items that might inhibit mowing of the grass. This list includes shrubs.

“At that time the cemetery was cleared of these items. Unfortunately, over the past 18 months the situation has deteriorated and the diocese recently revisited the
question.

“We have now been directed to leave warning notices on all graves where such items are found and then, allowing time for the families to react, we should remove them.”

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