Chesterfield Borough Council leader steps in over 'shocking' state of graveyards

Chesterfield Borough Council's leader has taken action - after upset family members hit out at the 'disrespectful' state of two graveyards in the town.

Sunday, 26th June 2016, 3:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th June 2016, 5:38 pm
Rosemary Rotherham at her parents' final resting place. Picture by Jason Chadwick.

The Derbyshire Times has received a number of complaints about the cemeteries at St Bartholomew's Church in Old Whittington and St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold.

On Sunday, Chesterfield Borough Council revealed its leader John Burrows had become involved and the authority had now recruited a new member of staff to maintain the area's closed graveyards after a worker retired from the role.

Councillor Chris Ludlow, the borough council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We are sorry for the distress that may have been caused to families visiting the graves of their loved ones.

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The cemetery at St Bartholomew's Church in Old Whittington. Picture by Jason Chadwick.

"We have had ongoing issues since the employee who carried out maintenance on the closed churchyards retired. This, coupled with the recent weather conditions, has resulted in overgrown grass in these churchyards.

"The council leader has become involved and we have now recruited a new member of staff to carry out the this work and we would ask people to bear with us while we work to clear the maintenance backlog."

Rosemary Rotherham, whose parents and grandparents are buried at St Bartholomew's Church on Church Street North, said: "The cemetery looks like a wilderness.

"It's full of weeds and there's grass up to the headstones – it's getting difficult to see them.

The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by Terry Jackson.

"When you lay flowers, you step back and they're nowhere to be seen.

"I find it totally disrespectful and upsetting.

"A graveyard should be a well-kept place.

"I hope the council gets this problem sorted as soon as possible.

The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by Robert Booker.

"I know it's not just me who's unhappy about it," added Newbold resident Mrs Rotherham.

Terry Jackson, who was born in Chesterfield, recently visited St John the Evangelist Church on St John's Road to pay his respects to his parents and brother.

He said he was 'shocked and disgusted' at the state of the graveyard and called for urgent action over the 'unsatisfactory situation'.

Robert Booker, meanwhile, visited the cemetery on Father's Day.

The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by John Brough.

He said: "I was appalled.

"There's long grass throughout the churchyard.

"It seems like maintenance has stopped."

And John Brough added: "I recently visited my stepfather's grave and was appalled and upset by what I saw when I arrived.

"There's a total lack of maintenance there.

"It was a distressing and upsetting experience."

The cemetery at St Bartholomew's Church in Old Whittington. Picture by Jason Chadwick.
The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by Terry Jackson.
The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by Robert Booker.
The graveyard at St John the Evangelist Church in Newbold. Picture by John Brough.