Grave concerns as grass grows apace

Parts of Marton cemetary are looking neglected and overgrown
Parts of Marton cemetary are looking neglected and overgrown
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Talks are to be held about the future maintenance of a Blackpool burial ground which has become so overgrown some graves are almost hidden from view, as these pictures show.

Nearly a decade after concerns were first raised about the upkeep of Marton Burial Ground on Preston New Road, grass inside the cemetery is once more growing out of control.

Although the cemetery is the responsibility of St Paul’s Church in Marton, Blackpool Council has cut the grass for the last few years as a gesture of goodwill.

Having faced cuts of £93m in its budget over the last five years, it is now struggling to fund the work.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary for Blackpool Council, said: “We’ve offered to help the church with a grass cutting service for a number of years now.

“We know they have struggled with maintenance so we have offered our service free of charge.

“That work has included the community payback team, made up of low level offenders, cutting the grass every other weekend.

“As the weather has become warmer, the cemetery, like every other green space in the town, has grown faster and has needed more frequent cutting. Therefore, we have placed a full-time member of staff there for the next few weeks to make sure we can get it back to looking in top condition.

“This is an issue that is likely arise each summer and therefore we will be talking to Father Wren about long term maintenance for the cemetery.

“While people continue to talk about grass cutting, I would again urge everybody to remember that the council’s budget has been cut by an enormous £93m over the last five years.

“Put simply, the grass can’t be cut as regularly because we’ve had to reduce the amount of staff who look after it.”

Rev Christopher Wren, vicar at St Paul’s, warned the church had no money of its own for the upkeep of the burial ground.

He said: “I fully appreciate the feelings of family members who go to the graveyard and think this is a mess and the church isn’t caring for it.

“But there is very little we can do.

“There is no income from the burial ground. All the graves are spoken for and we only have about two burials a month now of ashes.

“Meanwhile the council has suffered huge cuts to its budget and they have to decide whether to cut grass or help people in need and I totally understand where their priorities must lie.”

Marton councillor Jim Elmes said: “The council has done the work as a goodwill gesture, but I don’t really know where the money is going to come from.”