‘It is absolutely diabolical’, residents slam state of Eastbourne cemetery

Eastbourne residents have complained about the condition of a cemetery after council cuts have slashed the usual mowing schedule.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 1:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 1:31 pm

On Father’s Day a number of people visited Ocklynge Cemetery in Willingdon Road and were surprised to find grass growing higher than the grave stones.

Colin Hudson of East Dean Road said, “You can see the tops of big grave stones but a lot are totally covered by the grass.

“It is just absolutely diabolical.

Ocklynge Cemetery. Picture from David Forge. SUS-210623-125443001
Ocklynge Cemetery. Picture from David Forge. SUS-210623-125443001

“One, there is no respect for the dead but from the point of view of it being so unkept.

“Two, no respect for the dead in by having to get to people’s grave you are walking over other people’s graves without realising it because it is like an overgrown meadow.

“The health issue is that with the footstones you can’t pick them out so you are stumbling over them.”

Another resident said when he visited the cemetery there was a woman crying because she couldn’t find her father’s grave.

Ocklynge Cemetery. Picture from David Forge. SUS-210623-125453001

David Forge said, “The condition of this cemetery is a disgrace.

“It doesn’t appear to have had any maintenance for months.

James Woodgate of Thackeray Close said, “I went on Father’s Day to go to my Father’s grave only to have a job to find it.

“There was grass every where and was a disgrace. What is going on?”

Mr Hudson also voiced his concern for the potential health hazard the grass brings.

He said, “I stumbled twice and I suffer from arthritis so I am unsteady on my feet anyway and if someone was to actually fall over and hit their head on those granite headstones or whatever, you are stuck up there.

“You do not always get a phone signal. No one would find you if you were down flat on your face in that grass.”

Mr Hudson also acknowledged the environmental benefit of the grass but still believed something should be done.

He said, “I get it environmentally with the roundabouts and that but not at a place of respect and also causing a health hazard.

“There are a lot of war heroes up there who fought for this country’s independence and even the ones who haven’t, there is no respect being shown there and it is creating a major health hazard.”

A spokesperson from Eastbourne Borough Council said, “The change in mowing schedules is one element of a broad response by the council to the worldwide loss of habitats and species.

“In 2019 we declared a climate emergency and started work on plans to become carbon net zero by 2030.

“This work has included the adoption of a pollinator strategy and pesticide policy in 2019, the launch of a climate change and sustainability strategy in 2021 and earlier this month Cabinet councillors agreed a biodiversity strategy.

“By allowing areas of our cemeteries to grow we are creating habitats for bees, butterflies and other insects, all species that are currently in steep decline.

“Over time, wildflowers will seed and flourish and the grasses will become less prevalent.

“Ultimately, the area will become a very attractive natural space for wildlife and anyone visiting the cemetery.

“If a family member would like a path and the area around a grave cut, they can contact the council and this will be arranged as soon as possible.”