Son blasts council for ‘wrecking’ grave tributes in Sunderland cemetery

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THOUGHTLESS council workers left graves looking an utter mess, according to a grieving son.

Stephen Colin claimed carefully-laid wreaths and tributes are being destroyed when the grass is cut at Castletown Cemetery, in Sunderland.

The 63-year-old visits his mother and father’s graves every week, and said ride-on lawn mowers also leave the cemetery scarred with ugly track marks.

Retired warehouse worker Mr Colin said the problem has been going on for years, but decided to speak out after he alleged complaints to Sunderland Council fell on deaf ears.

He told the Echo: “They have a couple of lads using strimmers and a couple using the little tractors and that is how they are doing the damage, because they are weaving in and out.

“I have made complaints in the past to the council regarding the guys who come to cut the grass, and was assured they are supposed to blow the loose clippings away.

“But what they have done for years, is if there is a flowers or a tribute, they just go straight over them.

“If there were kids doing that, causing vandalism and stuff, they would be getting their bottoms kicked.

“It is just soul destroying when you get there. It is every three weeks they cut the grass, so you have to go and clean it up.

“I have confronted them and they say it is not their job to blow the cuttings away.

“Imagine going down there and being greeted by that.”

Mr Colin’s father Thomas has been buried at the cemetery, off Hylton Road since 1998, and wife Martha was also laid to rest there in 2007.

The grandfather-of-one added: “You spend a lot of time and effort and money to keep it looking nice – but these guys that cut the grass, they haven’t a care in the world.

“If there is something in the way, they go straight over it. It looks like a bombsite.”

Now he is hoping people with relatives buried at the cemetery will share his concerns.

“There is an area where the ex-servicemen are and I think they use a different company for that. It is like a bowling green.

“But my dad served in the armed forces for his country. He was based in Singapore with the Army in the Second World War.

“My complaints are falling on deaf ears, but if it goes public more people might come forward.”

Councillor James Blackburn, cabinet member for city services, said: “Grass cutting and strimming is part of the routine grounds maintenance programme in place across all of the city’s cemeteries, and staff take all possible care to ensure maintenance is carried out to the required standard.

“We take any concerns regarding family graves very seriously, and a manager from Bereavement Services will be in contact with Mr Conlin to discuss his concerns further and fully investigate any issues he has.

“Anyone who would like to contact us about cemeteries can call 520 5553.”

Twitter: @janethejourno

GRASS cutting complaints are not the only recent problems plaguing Sunderland graveyards.

Earlier this month we revealed that city council bosses had been forced to apologise, after workmen accidentally damaged four gravestones at Mere Knolls Cemetery.

The blunder included knocking over the headstone of Steven Robson, who died of a heart muscle disease in 1983, causing it to fall on another and crack.