Calls for action over ‘rundown’ town cemetery

Wednesday 10th November 2021 5:00 pm
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Residents and councillors have slammed the state of a town cemetery, saying a huge pile of spoil, rubbish and overgrown grass shows ‘disrespect’ to families with relatives buried there.

Torfaen County Borough Council ward members Janet Jones and Stuart Evans say they have been receiving complaints from residents on a ‘daily basis’ about the condition of Blaenavon’s Varteg Road Cemetery.

The duo have held meetings with Torfaen council officers and local MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, but say the concerns of townspeople have not been addressed.

They say it started to deteriorate some four years ago, but its state has worsened since the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are practically at our wits’ end,” said Cllr Evans. “We have had meetings with all the senior officers and our local MP.

“Over the years Blaenavon Town Council have been involved, trying to get this sorted, but it’s just not going anywhere.”

Cllr Jones visits the cemetery to attend the graves of seven family members, including her husband, father and grandparents who are buried there, and says the condition of the cemetery is the worst she can remember.

“When I was a child I would come here and put flowers on my grandparents’ grave,” she said.

“I can never remember it as bad as this. It’s showing disrespect for our families and our previous generations.

“We are fortunate to have Torfaen council maintain the cemetery, and we understand resources are limited, but it’s not being maintained to the standards it has been and this is so upsetting.”

Rob Jones, of Hillside Avenue, who regularly uses the cemetery and has a relative buried there, said the cemetery has been “poorly maintained” in recent years.

“The grass is left to grow long, there are broken headstones and there’s rubbish left everywhere,” he said.

Another concern is the location of a pile of spoil, which is near to a gated entrance into the cemetery, while residents have reported flytipping at the site.

Calls have been made for planting around the area, or for the earth to be moved to a more discreet location due to its visual impact.

Tom Huish, former mayor of Torfaen and Blaenavon, has called for details of how much the council spends on maintaining the cemetery.

A Torfaen Council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the concerns raised by local councillors and we’re working with them to address these issues.”

Mr Thomas-Symonds said the condition of the cemeteries is “an important issue for all of us”.

“I have met with the council alongside residents on this issue, and I will continue to work with all parties to find a resolution,” he added.

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