Tuesday, February 27, 2024

LOCAL COUNCIL ACCUSED OF BEING DISRESPECTFUL OVER CEMETERY WORK

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A CLOUGHEY woman has branded the maintenance of the cemetery in which her father is buried as ‘disrespectful’.

Yollande Truesdale is one of a number of people who have complained to Ards and North Down Council about the ‘mess’ that Kirkistown cemetery has been left in by workmen in recent weeks.

Ironically Mr Truesdale’s father, Thomas Dorman, was responsible for maintenance at the cemetery when he was employed as a charge hand by Ards Borough Council.

Mrs Truesdale said there were tears from relatives who visited the cemetery last Thursday after council workmen had carried out grass cutting and maintenance. There were vehicle tracks across the graves, grass had been scattered across headstones and large clumps of grass had been left by the workmen who do not collect the cut grass.

The Cloughey woman said her father, who passed away in July 2022, wanted to be buried in Kirkistown cemetery ‘because the council cuts the grass, and they will do it right’.

But she said after she and other relatives discovered the condition of the graveyard last week, she now believes her father would be ‘turning in his grave’.

She said she went down onto her hands and knees at her dad’s grave trying to remove the cut grass and tidy up the area surrounding his plot.

“I reported it to the council on Friday morning, I was assured that come Monday, it would be sorted out.

“Two men came Monday,  at 10 o’clock, one had a blower to move the grass, and another on a ride-on mower,” she describes. “On Tuesday I went down at 1.30pm and they were cutting, I thought I would give them the chance to tidy this up.

“I went back at 4.30pm, nothing had been sorted out. I thought the graveyard is still a mess.

In Mr Dorman’s working years, his daughter said he and his team of fellow council workers were very careful in their tending of the cemetery.

“He took great pride in it, as did all of the local men that worked from the council,” she said. “They cut the grass in straight lines and I was just disgusted to look down at the graveyard and all of the graves and there wasn’t a straight line from the lawn mower. I could have done a better job.

“The whole reason my dad is up there is because he thought, because the council cuts the grass, they will do it right.”

Attending the scene last Thursday after receiving a call from a distressed constituent, alderman Robert Adair has called for the council to act and keep the area tidy,

“The cemetery is a special place, it is the resting place of people’s loved ones,” he said. “There has to be care and attention to this area, dignity and respect.

“I was very disappointed, and I sent the council a very strong email outlining the concerns,” he said “A lot of people are very distressed and very unhappy.”

“What touched me was people were actually crying, they were very upset. One lady said to me that it became a place of torment.

“Going forward, we need to put measures in place so this doesn’t happen again. The council needs to take due care.”

A council spokesman said the council is aware of issues with grass cutting as a result of increased growth rates impacted by the recent weather patterns.

“An enhanced grass cutting programme will now be carried out at Kirkistown to address these issues and to ensure that going forward our cemeteries continue to be maintained to the highest standard.

“Five complaints have been received recently around grass maintenance and grass laying at Kirkistown Cemetery.”

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