BROADWATER Cemetery is ‘largely unvisited and will be closed for burials in the near future’.
This is the view of William Boyd, support services manager at Adur and Worthing councils, written in response to a complaint about the overgrown state of the South Farm Road cemetery.
Linda Thorne, of New Road, Durrington, wrote to the council after continually finding her sister Hazle’s grave overgrown and covered in branches and brambles.
Mr Boyd’s response said: “Most parts of the site are managed as wildflower meadows throughout the spring and summer period.
“As with all local authorities, our budgets and staffing levels have been cut severely by central government in recent years as part of their ongoing campaign of austerity measures and realistically, this semi-natural regime is the only way we can maintain the cemetery as we simply do not have the resources to do more cuts.
“I am sorry that you find the maintenance regime in place inappropriate and upsetting, but we need to use our limited resources predominately within our active cemeteries.”
Mrs Thorne said the reply made her angry, adding: “Surely we are not the only family who visit a relative who has passed away?
“We could not take my mother to her own daughter’s grave in the last couple of years of her life as she was wheelchair-bound and the paths were not wheelchair friendly at all. So Mum would have to wait in the car.
“One of the graves we walked by had rubbish dumped on it and been there for a while, as it was rotting.
“We have recently paid again to get Hazle’s grave cleaned, which is not cheap, but with grass etc growing so high we need to do this more often.
“As with it growing like a meadow, it will be attracting wildlife which then means other kind of mess, too, which my sister had to clean off the other day, cat or fox mess.
“If the council are making cutbacks, surely there are other ways of keeping cemeteries in a reasonable state, i.e people on Job Seekers Allowance or those carrying out community service. This is a very upsetting situation for my family.”
A council spokesman said: “Broadwater Cemetery is likely to be classed as a closed cemetery soon as there are no spaces for new graves and there are dwindling numbers of additional interments into existing graves (down to less than five per year) being requested.
“We can and do re-open graves for additional interments but the use of Broadwater simply means it is likely to be classed by us as a closed churchyard soon.”