'An appalling state' - bereaved criticises cemetery wildlife campaign

Weeded areas by graves in Kirkley cemetery

Keith Oakes found his great-grandmother's grave was inaccessible due to the long grass and weeds surrounding the plot. - Credit: Supplied by Keith Oakes

A mourner has complained about the condition of a graveyard in Lowestoft which is part of a nature conservation campaign.

Keith Oakes, who works overseas, visits the grave of his great-grandmother and grandmother in Kirkley Cemetery when visiting the town.

The gravesite is included in East Suffolk Council's "pardon the weeds, we're feeding the bees" campaign where grass is left to grow and wildflowers are planted.

However, Mr Oakes found on his recent visit that his relatives' plot was now inaccessible.

Mr Oakes originally complained to East Suffolk Council, but felt responses were "dismissive."

Weeds around graves in Kirkley cemetery.

Keith Oakes found East Suffolk Council's response were "dismissive". - Credit: Supplied by Keith Oakes

Mr Oakes said: "This year we managed to visit our family’s grave, but to our dismay we found the surrounding areas to the grave were in an appalling state.

"Our main concern is the totally dismissive replies, especially from the chief executive with regard to their stance on biodiversity and wildlife.

"A burial ground should be respected in every form."

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James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for the environment said: “Cemeteries are important to local communities and will always be maintained appropriately to ensure burial spaces remain accessible for bereaved families.

“We have an obligation to preserve and protect the environment, however grass adjacent to main paths is kept short in all our cemeteries and is managed in a way to allow access to regularly attended graves.

"Visitors can also request additional cut pathways if they believe it is required.

“So, while most burials take place in the lawn sections, less frequently used areas are given over for wildlife, with longer periods allowed between grass cutting to allow plants and insects to thrive.

“We understand that Mr Oakes is unhappy about this approach, however we have received many compliments about the policy we have adopted and the flora and fauna which is now visible.

“We want our cemeteries to be tranquil places for reflection and remembrance and we try to provide a balanced environment for both visitors and wildlife.”

In March this year, it was reported that over 100 wild spaces for the "Pardon the weeds" campaign were to be used across the county to help the environment flourish.

How do you feel about the weeded areas of cemeteries across Lowestoft? Email reece.hanson@archant.co.uk with your thoughts.