Anger as Biggleswade cemeteries left in 'shocking' and 'appalling' state

Residents claim Stratton Way and Drove Road cemeteries have become neglected, with grass 'growing wild'.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:01 pm

Upset Biggleswade residents claim that the town's cemeteries have become neglected, with grass "growing wild" and cuttings left behind.

Mourners have expressed their dismay about the state of the Stratton Way and Drove Road sites, asking why the town council has left them looking "a mess".

The residents argue that regular checks are needed and that all the graves deserve to be tidied and respected, especially as some of the deceased will no longer have family members to tend them.

Drove Road Cemetery this morning (June 24). Photos: Carol Clark.
Drove Road Cemetery this morning (June 24). Photos: Carol Clark.

In a letter to the Chronicle, resident Anne Wright claimed: "I am writing to you about the present state of Stratton Way Cemetery.

"I visit my parents’ grave regularly, and after going there on Father’s Day on Sunday, I was shocked and saddened to see the neglect and lack of care for the cemetery.

"The grass has been left to grow wild, a lot of weeds are taking over the ground and it is impossible to tend the grave as there is no room to kneel between the stone surrounds. On one occasion I had to actually kneel on the granite surround to place flowers in the vase.

"I hope I speak for other local residents as well. I think this is the worst I have seen it in 14 years.

Images of Drove Road Cemetery taken earlier this week. Photos: Carol Clark.

"Instead of a place for reflection ,remembrance and peace it has become an untidy and uncared for wilderness. Considering we pay council tax to cover parks, public gardens and cemeteries there is no excuse for the shocking appearance of the cemetery."

Anne told the newspaper that she believes that the grass has been cut recently, but "not between the graves", while cuttings are "often left behind".

Meanwhile, on Sunday (June 20), resident Carol Clark asked us: "Could you please do a report on how appalling the cemeteries are looking. It's Drove Road I have concerns about. All the weeds and grass look appalling."

On Tuesday (June 22), she claimed: "I've driven past Drove Road this afternoon and it looks like someone has been around with a strimmer; but it looked untidy still.

Drove Road Cemetery taken earlier this week. Photo: Carol Clark.

"The advice to someone who complained is that the graves are the responsibility of family. However, if no family members are alive what happens to getting rid of weeds growing inside the grave?"

She added: "I'm 65 now and I'm the only one left to do it. My children will take over but I don't know what's happened to the other people. It could be that people have moved away and some [graves] have no-one to tend them. It's very sad.

"I tried to pull the weeds out of one of them but I bet the weeds are still lying there. They just strim it [the grass] and don't clean it up."

A Biggleswade Town Council spokesman, said: "There have been a number of factors that combined have impacted on the maintenance of our cemeteries.

"Firstly, the sunny weather and high rainfall has encouraged a significant amount of growth over and above the seasonal norm. In addition we have had challenges with the delivery of our new lawnmowers and the ongoing maintenance of the existing older machinery. Parts are at a premium as a consequence of impacted supply lines due to COVID.

"The Public Realm Team are extremely busy at this time of the year and have to balance a number of conflicting priorities. The council recognises that we need to invest in more staff as a result of the volume of work and hopes to be in a position to make some additional appointments very soon."

But on hearing the comments about the weather and machinery, Carol added: "It's just an excuse really. They should have regular checks. It's been on social media on the Biggleswade page. Everybody has been saying how terrible it looks."