Vandals dismantle Biggleswade cemetery wall "block by block"

The wall was being repaired at a cost of nearly £17.5k
Vandalised boundary wall At Drove Road Chapel. Picture: Biggleswade Town Council agendaVandalised boundary wall At Drove Road Chapel. Picture: Biggleswade Town Council agenda
Vandalised boundary wall At Drove Road Chapel. Picture: Biggleswade Town Council agenda

Vandals have targeted a wall being rebuilt at a Biggleswade cemetery removing a section of it “block by block”, a meeting heard.

The defective boundary wall was being repaired at a cost of nearly £17,500, during the second phase of a renovation project at the Drove Road Chapel site.

Now town councillors have agreed to spend more money to replace the materials which were taken down during the vandalism.

Referring to the offenders as “rebels”, town councillor Madeline Russell told Central Bedfordshire Council’s Biggleswade joint committee: “It’s incredible what people do.

“The big scheme currently is the boundary wall, of which a large part needs rebuilding,” she explained.

“Unfortunately we’ve suffered vandalism there and another section of the wall was taken down block by block. We’ve just had to agree to pay out extra money to have that rebuilt. It’s not nice.

“There are security cameras covering the chapel itself, but you can’t really have them watching when people might be by the grave of a loved one. You just can’t do that. Our hands are tied a little, and I think the rebels know that.

“The Drove Road cemetery project is phased over three years and we’re into the second year. We’ve got funding to carry on with the restoration of the chapel, which is Grade II listed.

“We’re considering the layout of the rest of the cemetery and whether anything can be done to improve that.”

Councillor Russell said the decision to fund the latest repair work was taken at a town council meeting, last week.

Four phases of repairs have been identified to the weather damaged historic listed chapel buildings and their surrounds.

The town council was asked by experts to consider replacing the boundary wall and fencing around the cemetery as part of plans to restore the chapels as closely as possible to their original condition.

Town councillors were updated on the project in the summer, when it was agreed to defer a decision to draw down £10,000 for wall repairs to consider the best long-term solution.

Two options were presented to a meeting of the local authority in August, one involving the removal of the wall and the other having it repaired.

Council officers suggested proceeding with restoration of the wall to ensure it would be in keeping with the rest of the cemetery.

The cost of taking it down and clearing away materials would have been around £5,600, while the other choice to rebuild the wall was estimated at £17,450.

Councillor Russell suggested at that meeting: “The recommendations are the best way forward to look after the cemetery properly and it’s right to allow the project manager some discretion, rather than have everything coming back to us all the time.”

Councillors previously agreed unanimously to proceed with rebuilding the defective wall, with the £17,450 sourced from the public works loan board budget of £155,304.