Felixstowe: Churchyard grass cutting to be increased next summer

A VICAR has today spoken of the difficulties churches would face in keeping closed graveyards tidy following complaints about long grass this summer.

Rev John Aston, of St Peter and St Paul Church, Felixstowe, said many churches would be unable to meet the cost of the work if congregations were forced to pay, and also would find it hard to put together teams of volunteers to do the work.

Complaints have been made about the churchyard in Church Road – which has now been mown by Suffolk Coastal Services – with relatives visiting graves saying they have had to wade through long grass and clear it from headstones this summer.

Once a graveyard is closed, the responsibility and cost of maintaining it transfers to the council.

To save costs, the district council has reduced the number of grass cuts – cutting just twice this summer, compared with six times in previous years.

“It’s a very difficult situation. I have written several letters to people about the state of the graveyard and I am concerned that people are complaining,” said Mr Aston.

“Members of the church do look after the Garden of Remembrance but we cannot look after the churchyard, with an ageing congregation it would be very difficult to have enough people to do the work.

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“The council has the responsibility for a closed churchyard and is looking after it.”

While some people have complained about the state of closed churchyards, others have a different view – and believe they should be left overgrown to provide wildlife havens.

Next summer, Suffolk Coastal plans to increase the number of cuts to every second month during the growing season.