Cemetery should not have been left to grow wild

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I t is impossible not to feel sympathy for Patricia Stephens, who finds the grave of her husband surrounded by what is increasingly becoming a jungle.

Normally it would be unthinkable that a council would let a cemetery get into such an overgrown state. But at the old part of Waterlooville Cemetery, the return to the wild is deliberate.

And we have to say that we understand Havant Borough Council’s decision to allow nature to take its course – but only to a degree.

We don’t have enough wild flowers and natural growth in urban areas and therefore we don’t have enough wild insects, birds and creatures.

So there is nothing wrong with a bit of nature’s beauty.

But we would draw the line at seeking to achieve this in a graveyard.

There is, first, a very obvious reason – it is likely to upset surviving close relatives of loved ones buried there.

Of those, there are few at the Waterlooville burial ground now hidden under the long grass, but it was known that there had been recent burials in long-established family plots.

So surely it was not fair to continue with the plan without getting the express agreement of family members such as Mrs Stephens, whose husband Gwilym died three years ago.

She says she will cut the grass around the grave herself if the council doesn’t.

But there is another, wider point – and we believe Mrs Stephens sums it up succinctly when she says: ‘It is a cemetery, not a meadow.’

She makes the point that there is a sharp contrast with the newer part of the cemetery, which is still kept neat and tidy by the council’s workforce.

A cemetery should remain a place of dignity and order, no matter how old it is. It is our responsibility as this generation to show reverence to those who came before us, and a grave overgrown and neglected is a poor reflection on all of us, and – whatever the beauty of the plants that have overgrown it – a sad sight and a seemingly forgotten site.

It’s not too late for the council to reverse its decision and get out the shears.