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Fury as council diggers and heavy machinery drive over graves in cemetery

Heavy machinery and mini-diggers were caught driving over people’s graves at a Gloucestershire cemetery

Alexander Butler
Friday 24 November 2023 15:24 GMT
A grave damaged by track marks
A grave damaged by track marks (Alastair Chambers )

A local council is under fire after mini-diggers and heavy machinery were caught driving over people’s graves.

Councillor Alastair Chambers, who represents a nearby ward, said he was “appalled” to discover wooden crosses marking people’s graves had been “crushed” at Coney Hill Cemetery and Crematorium in Gloucester.

“We are all shocked and saddened on how the City Council treats the graves of residents. We won’t let this monstrosity of a council get away with disrespecting the dead any longer,” Mr Chambers said.

A mini-digger appearing to drive over the graves of people buried at the Gloucestershire cemetery (Alastair Chambers )

“Laid to rest is what it must be. Heavy plant and machinery should not pass over the graves of our family and friends. This city council really has no heart.”

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In one photo, track marks can be seen having crossed over a fenced area of a grave marked with gravel and a black headstone.

Other images show a mini-digger being driven very closely to dozens of headstones and a small vehicle parked over a grave.

It comes after after a mother was told she must remove a decorative fence placed around her seven-year-old son’s grave at the cemetery as it could pose a healthy and safety risk.

Sharna Andrews, whose son Harry-Lee died last year after suffering a severe asthma attack, said she would continue “fighting” to keep the fence in place.

But deputy leader and performance and resources cabinet member Hannah Norman said that the current rules and regulations are there to support operational activities at the cemetery.

A small vehicle appearing to be parked next to two headstones at the Gloucestershire cemetery (Alastair Chambers)

“Movement of the digger can mean that graves which do not have a stonemasons approved kerb set can be damaged if they use a different edging,” Ms Norman told the BBC.

“Unfortunately, the grounds team do not have the capacity to move wooden, plastic or metal edgings prior to operating the digger and placing it back afterwards.

“Use of the digger next to such edging is highly likely to cause damage and cause further upset to the families. This is absolutely something the council is highly motivated to avoid.”

Now, thousands of residents have signed a petition demanding a change to the rules, according to Mr Chambers. The council has also unanimously agreed to review its cemetery regulations.

A spokesperson for Gloucester City Council told MailOnline: “The use of operational equipment to dig graves is in line with national practice and needed to navigate the cemetery site.

“We would always look for the best access route to dig a grave and sometimes have no choice but to remove items to gain access, this would always be undertaken in as sensitive a manner as possible.

“We have already committed to undertake a review into the rules and regulations around cemeteries in Gloucester to ensure they still meet best practice.

“The current rules and regulations have been in place since August 2014 and are similar to other cemeteries and graveyards around the country.

“All families are asked to sign up to these at the time of burial and copies are then sent to them at a later less stressful time to review and retain.”

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