May 19 2013 Latest news:
Kate Nelson, Acting News Editor
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The daughter of one of Gravesend’s finest stonemasons was left in tears by the state of Northfleet Cemetery when she visited his grave on Fathers’ Day.
Karen Ernst was warned by her sister Jacqui that the graveyard in Springhead Road was a mess but the 50-year-old was shocked by what she saw.
Bins were overflowing with rubbish, head stones were damaged and grass was long and thick with weeds.
Breaking down, she told The Reporter: “I was gobsmacked. The thing that got to me the most was that there was a man in his 70s or 80s who told me he had gone home to get a pair of shears to cut the grass around his wife’s grave. He was on his hands and knees.”
Mrs Ernst rang Gravesend Council first thing on Monday (18) morning to complain.
Her father, Douglas Cherry, was a master stonemason and worked on many restoration projects in the area including Gravesend’s famous clocktower.
Mrs Ernst added: “My dad would have been absolutely mortified. The place is disgusting. Our dead people need more respect.”
A council spokesperson blamed the unkempt grass on wet weather and the theft of cutting equipment at Gravesend Cemetery, meaning both graveyards are having to share machinery.
He added: “We have taken on additional staff but the conditions have still meant it is taking longer to cut the grass. In the past month the council has become involved in an unemployment scheme and currently has seven extra staff spread across the service helping with the grass cutting and are in the process of employing a two apprentices.
“The council sympathizes with anyone who has been upset or distressed by the situation but we are striving to improve the situation in very difficult conditions. We hoping for an extended dry spell so that we can get the sites back to normal.”