THE wife of a man buried in a cemetery which is being allowed to go back to nature has criticised the council.
Patricia Stephens says she is disgusted that Havant Borough Council is allowing the old part of Waterlooville Cemetery to become overgrown in a bid to encourage wildflowers and insects to the area.
Mrs Stephens, whose husband Gwilym died of asbestosis aged 74 in 2008, says she is so angry she will cut the grass herself if the council doesn’t. The 70-year-old, of Benina Close, Waterlooville, said: ‘My husband spent 44 years serving his country, first in the army and then in the Ministry of Defence, and he doesn’t even get any respect.
‘It is a cemetery, not a meadow. The whole lot should be taken back to a neat and tidy cemetery – as immaculate as the other side is.
‘It does not matter that some of the graves are a couple of hundred years old. What if somebody came back from abroad and went to look up a loved one? They would never find them under 2ft of weeds and wild flowers.’
Most of the graves in the old part of the cemetery are old but there are some family plots, such as Mr Stephens’, which are still tended by relatives.
The council has told Mrs Stephens they will clear a pathway to her husband’s grave for her but she says that is not good enough.
She added: ‘My daughter came here in tears three weeks ago because it looked so awful up there. She isn’t a very teary person, she’s very strong, so to see her like that was so upsetting.
‘Her words to me were “you will not believe dad’s grave, it is disgusting.
“I have been on my hands and knees trying to get some of the rubbish away from his gravestone”.’
A spokeswoman for the council said the policy was to turn the area back to nature but not because of the age of the gravestones.
A trial began three years ago on both sides and the left-hand side, the old cemetery, was chosen because it attracted more wildlife.
She said a number of pathways have been cleared upon request, including one to Mr Gwilym’s grave.
She added: ‘We don’t cut the grass during the summer months and the wildflower months. It is intended to encourage wildflowers, bees and butterflies which there is a shortage of in the UK at the moment.
‘But we will clear a pathway to any graves whenever that is requested – usually within 24 hours.’
The area now attracts meadow brown and common blue butterflies and 40 species of plants.