Fly-tippers slammed after setting light to rubbish in historic Houghton Hillside Cemetery

Fly-tippers have struck at a historic cemetery, leaving sacks of household rubbish which were then set alight.

Sunday, 27th December 2020, 6:00 am

The illegal dumping was carried out at the usually peaceful Houghton Hillside Cemetery, just off the A690 on the Houghton Cut.

Much of the rubbish was not flammable; or toxic when burned. It included tin cans, metal wire, a child’s plastic toy, glass and polystyrene packing.

Envelopes which were somehow not burned were found on the pile.

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Much of the rubbish on the cemetery bonfire was toxic when burned.

It is not known exactly when the dumping took place, but the mess was reported to Sunderland City Council by a cemetery visitor on Sunday, December 20.

The Friends of Houghton Hillside Cemetery, who voluntarily look after the historic site and surrounding beauty spot, think the crimes were carried out by louts who also had a party there.

The rubbish is thought to have been carried into the grounds by hand, as access by vehicle is very difficult and there were no signs of any tyre tracks.

Damien Wright, a member of Friends of Houghton Hillside Cemetery, said the problems with vandalism and antisocial behaviour are ongoing in the area, and he called on the police and council to do more to tackle the issue.

Fly tippers are thought to have had a bonfire party at the cemetery

Mr Wright said: “With recent budget cuts in local authorities over the years, this has left what is a place of natural beauty in a vulnerable position, resulting in a constant battle with those that wish to abuse and vandalise the final resting place for many.”

Sunderland City Council said in a statement that the incident would be attended to.

“Fly-tipping is irresponsible and illegal. The council has increased its resources on taking action against these offenders. We can and we will take action,” the statement said.

“This particular incident was reported to council officers and will be attended to. We would encourage anyone with information to report it immediately at, or by calling 0191 520 5550.

Houghton Hillside Cemetery is usually one of the most tranquil places in Sunderland.

“Anyone booking a ‘white van’ for waste removal can also be held liable by the courts if their rubbish is then fly-tipped.

“It’s far more cheap and convenient – and it’s legal – to use the council’s bulky items collection:

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The story of Houghton’s unusual, hidden Hillside Cemetery and those buried there

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