Action to stop Sunderland's Bishopwearmouth Cemetery being used as a ‘rat-run’

A much-loved Sunderland cemetery is to make changes to prevent disrespectful motorists from using it as a shortcut.

In September the Echo reported concerns of nearby residents about Bishopwearmouth Cemetery. Vehicles are cutting between Chester Road and Hylton Road at all hours, to save time by avoiding traffic lights.

“No through road” signs at both ends of the 80-acre site are routinely ignored, as are 10mph speed limit signs.

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Some drivers even play loud music as they speed through the 600m stretch of the cemetery’s central path.

Signage at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery is routinely ignored by motorists using it as a rat-run.

Details are yet to be finalised, but the cemetery is set to make changes early in the new year after councillors for the area held a meeting with Sunderland City Council’s Bereavement Services department.

The Echo understands that this could involve bollards, a new car park and a one-way system. The new scheme will accommodate people who genuinely need vehicle access to Bishopwearmouth, particularly for funerals.

The cemetery is in the Pallion ward, which is represented by three Lib Dem councillors, including Cllr George Smith.

He said: “Blocking the road through the cemetery is long overdue; preventing it being used as a rat-run by inconsiderate drivers, whilst maintaining access for mourners and funeral parties.

“The cemetery should be a peaceful place for people to mourn and pay respects to departed loved ones; but for years this has been disturbed by cars racing through to avoid the traffic lights on Chester Road and Hylton Road.

“It is fantastic news that the council has finally listened and acted to make sure Bishopwearmouth remains a peaceful place where mourners and have the chance to grieve and pay their respects in peace.”

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Council deputy leader Cllr Claire Rowntree said: “Regrettably, there has been an increase in drivers who have been using Bishopwearmouth Cemetery as a short-cut, and causing a nuisance and disturbances to visitors and nearby residents.

“It is clearly stated at the entrances that these are for access only and not through roads. As a listening council, we have been consulting widely and are now considering introducing restrictions to vehicles at the cemetery.

“Pedestrian access will not be affected and notice of the closures will be given in the coming weeks as we look to introducing these restrictions early in 2022.”

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