Booze-ups, bikinis and bare chests in cemetery

AN ESSEX cemetery is to ban “disrespectful'' behaviour after reports of bikini-clad women, bare-chested men and booze-ups among its gravestones.

Roddy Ashworth

AN ESSEX cemetery is to ban “disrespectful'' behaviour after reports of bikini-clad women, bare-chested men and booze-ups among its gravestones.

Colchester Borough Council, which has recently received national accolades for its municipal cemetery, is set to introduce new regulations regarding conduct at the graveyard in Mersea Road.

The rules were formulated after Tim Young, the council's cabinet member with responsibility for the cemetery, instigated a consultation process with users of the graveyard - and received some surprising responses.

According to a subsequent report, these included complaints about drunken parties, football games, swearing, shouting, and people “describing sexual encounters close to grave spaces”.

There were also concerns about the excessive use of solar lights and wind chimes which, according to one respondent, made the cemetery sound “more like a fun fair” than a place of rest and contemplation.

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Yesterday, Mr Young said: “When I heard some of the stories about how certain people were behaving in the cemetery we decided to make changes to the rules as soon as possible.

“It is just not acceptable for people to act in an anti-social or disrespectful way in a graveyard.

“We have had men going around wearing nothing but shorts, and women dressed in bikini tops - and I don't believe that people who in mourning want to see that.

“Other people have been having parties up there.

“While I agree it is reasonable for people to celebrate the memories of a loved one at the cemetery, when mourners start cracking open the lagers they are going too far.

“It is counter to what most people regard as right-minded behaviour.”

Mr Young said the new rules tried to draw a reasonable limit to the use of solar lights and wind chimes.

“The consultation said certain areas of the cemetery had gone over the top.

“In parts, the branches of trees are being weighed down by the things.

“We have decided that people should, within reason, be able to put what they want on their loved ones' graves, but not to spread everything out over nearby trees and benches.

“Basically, extraneous material should be kept to a minimum.”

He added that all of the new regulations, which will be considered by the council's cabinet this evening, had been put in place to try and keep the cemetery as attractive and respectful as possible.

“It is a balancing act, because people have different ways of grieving and remembering, and we should respect that as far as we can.

“But I think these rules are fair. We have to draw the line somewhere,” he said.

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