May 21 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, July 7, 2012
The poor state of West Ham Cemetery has been criticised by upset mourners who have been unable to locate their relatives’ graves.
Visitors have reported overgrown grass, untreated headstones, and towering weeds when at the facility in Cemetery Lane.
But Newham Council, which runs the cemetery, blamed recent rain for the condition of the graves. Temporary staff have been taken on to tackle the problem.
Avril Griffin was forced to use a strimmer to the cut the grass so she could make out her grandmother Mary’s grave. She is buried there along with Miss Griffin’s aunts and uncles.
She said: “I feel sorry for the people at there because it’s not their fault, the council aren’t having any dealings with it.
“They are saying it’s because of the cutbacks.
“When I went down there with my parents we were tripping over one of graves because we can’t see where we are going.”
Miss Griffin, who now lives in Hornchurch, Essex, said her family was in tears after their last visit.
“I just felt guilty leaving it like that because I can’t get down here that often.”
Former Stratford resident Sandra Millar, who now lives near Witham in Essex, said the cemetery’s condition was “absolutely appalling.” She was shocked when she visited her grandparents Maisy and Phillip.
She said: “I’ve lived in Newham my whole life and most of my family are buried in that cemetery.
“Over the years, it’s been getting worse and worse. It just seems that they are running the place down and cutting back.”
Fellow mourner Richard Dilliway, who visited the site with his mother on Father’s Day, added: “It’s no exaggeration to say the grass must have been about three feet high
“It really is awful – you can barely get to the graves.”
A Newham Council spokesman said mowing tractors cannot be used to trim the grass.
He said: “West Ham Cemetery is not being allowed to deteriorate - we are working to resolve the problem with the grass.
“The highly unusual amount of rainfall has caused it to grow at a rapid rate with the wet weather also making it very difficult to cut.
“We have apologised to a number of our visitors and reassured them that we are working hard to solve the issue.”