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Priest calls for action to clean-up vandalised cemetery

The vandalism, rubbish and damage at Buckingham Road Cemetery in Ilford. The vandalism, rubbish and damage at Buckingham Road Cemetery in Ilford.

Friday, July 18, 2014
7:00 AM

The graves of Buckingham Road Cemetery are crumbling, cans of beer litter the ground and an empty brandy bottle sits on a memorial to those who died defending our country.

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Father Gareth JonesFather Gareth Jones

The priest of neighbouring St Mary the Virgin church, Father Gareth Jones, has had enough and is calling on the council to take action.

He says the cemetery and the area around it have been neglected for too long.

“It’s constantly vandalised,” Fr Jones said. “The war memorial is cleared up once a year, before the Remembrance Day service but we feel there should be more investment.”

Fr Jones said he wanted the council to improve the area and in particular, protect the First World War memorial in the centre of the cemetery.

But the Westleigh Group, which manages the site on behalf of Redbridge Council, says the site is maintained weekly.

Jason King, who runs the cemetery on behalf on the group, said: “We haven’t received any reports of vandalism for five to six years, and thousands of pounds has been invested transforming the cemetery, clearing trees and demolishing out-of-use buildings.”

He added that a lot of the gravestones were more than 100 years old and had to be laid down for health and safety reasons.

Fr Jones said that a lot of work had been carried out in the past four years, but requests made to Redbridge Council for a clear-up of the graves and the introduction of CCTV have been rejected.

He said: “I would like to see them (Redbridge Council) doing more.

“It’s a sad place, the whole of the area is sad, because it has been neglected over the years.”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “We have worked to tidy some of the graves and have arranged for the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team to cover the area on their patrols.

“We have also arranged for a rough sleeping outreach worker to visit the area at least weekly.”

The council said that relocatable CCTV had been used in the cemetery but had limited effect due to the lack evening lighting and suitable places for it to be mounted.

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