12:59PM, Thursday 12 May 2022
Concerns continue to be raised over the state of borough cemeteries following a string of complaints last year.
The Royal Borough’s contractor Tivoli provides grass-cutting and other grounds maintenance services in its green spaces.
Last year, multiple visitors came forward to complain about the overgrown grass obscuring graves in cemeteries in the borough.
At the time, cabinet member for environmental services, Councillor David Coppinger, apologised to the public for this.
In March, former outdoor facilities manager for the borough, Steve Anderson, raised concerns that the situation was heading the same way this year.
He has been monitoring Braywick Cemetery and noted that grass from cuttings has been left on the grass, with some spreading onto the paths, flower patches and memorials.
Steve also noticed that debris was piled up by the bins rather than being taken away.
“You can tell by colour of the material it has been there some weeks,” he said.
Steve visited last week and again on Tuesday, sending photos to the borough.
“You report it and nothing gets done. Here we are a week later, the grass is all over the path and it’s just a state,” he said. “It’s no better than it was last year.
“We can’t go through the whole summer with upset families visiting the cemeteries. Things are going downhill and no one seems to care to do anything about it.”
Other visitors have echoed Steve’s concerns.
Hugh Boulter, from Pinkneys Green, visits Braywick at least once a week and says he finds the state of the cemetery ‘disgraceful’.
“Words can’t really describe it,” he said.
“Even if it was a park, it would be an issue, but it’s a place of rest that needs respect. People who visit from out of the area are horrified to see it in such a state.
“The only work I’ve witnessed is the grass strimming but they don’t pick up the grass, so you get new grass growing among all the dead grass,” he added.
“It isn’t particularly carefully strimmed either. There’s no care or attention.
“Saying the grass is cut every fortnight isn’t getting to the bottom of the problem. Someone in charge needs to oversee what’s going on.”
Correspondents have also criticised the state of cemeteries on the Viewpoint pages in recent weeks, with one person saying Braywick had ‘never looked so bad’ and another saying ‘there is no respect’.
Cllr Coppinger, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “The vast majority of grass cutting in the borough does not include the collection of cut grass, which naturally breaks down over time, and this is in common with the management of many other parks and open spaces across the country.
“However, we have reminded Tivoli that grass should be removed from headstones and memorials and they have confirmed that this should be the case.
“We are currently in peak growing season and the crews are working hard and doing all they can to keep on top of weeds and grass-cutting.
“As they work, grounds maintenance crews will gather and put aside green waste for a short period until this is removed.”
Cllr Coppinger was also quizzed on work being done to address cemetery concerns during a council meeting last month.
At the time, he said: “Regular contract monitoring is carried out, with joint inspections of sites including cemeteries included in the contract management, to ensure that work is delivered to the correct standard and that key performance indicators are met.
“Additional staff have been employed on the contract to make sure that the work is completed.”
He added the council is ‘very interested’ in working with members of the public to help maintain graves.
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