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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Grave problems thwart visitors

ANY visitors to the old cemetery on Prudhoe’s West Road are taking their lives in their hands.

For the graveyard is so dangerous people going to visit family graves need an escort, it was claimed this week.

The cemetery is not only overgrown, but gravestones are in danger of toppling, and there have also been landslips around some tombs.

However, Northumberland County Council, which is responsible for the site, says it cannot afford to make it safe.

The grave matter was raised at Tuesday’s meeting of the county council’s west area committee in Haltwhistle by Haltwhistle town councillor Margaret Forrest.

She said: “ I went to Prudhoe cemetery to look up an old family grave and I was absolutely disgusted by what I saw.

“The cemetery is in an absolutely terrible state. It’s overgrown, neglected and an absolute mess.

“The vicar told me Tynedale Council used to cut the grass, but it’s never been touched since the county council took over.

“‘I’m sure a lot of people would want to go in there to research their family trees, but it’s too dangerous.”

Prudhoe’s Coun. Neil Bradbury said as a closed churchyard, the upkeep of the cemetery was the responsibility of the county council.

He said: “The county should put it in a serviceable condition so that people can get access to the site.

“At the moment, it is kept locked, and you have to apply for a key to gain access.”

Neighbourhood services manager David Hunt told the meeting the county had inherited the cemetery from Tynedale Council and had decided it was unsafe for it to be open to the general public unless they were supervised.

He said: “An awful lot of money would need to be spent on it for the public to be allowed free access.

“Gravestones are leaning, and a lot of the graves have sunk. As the budget stands, we would not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem.”

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