Felixstowe: Relatives claim grass cutting cuts are disrespectful

GRASS cutting at churchyards will be increased next summer following complaints from relatives who said the lack of care this year was disrespectful to their loved ones.

Suffolk Coastal cut the number of cuts to save council taxpayers’ cash, but the move backfired because of the wet summer and concern from distressed families.

This summer grass at closed churchyards has only been cut twice, compared with six times in previous years.

“Imagine cutting the grass in your back garden just twice in a summer – there is no way you would do it so few times, especially in the summer we have just had,” said 80-year-old Gwen Greenfield, who visits her parents graves at St Peter and St Paul Church in Old Felixstowe.

“To reach my parents’ graves, I had to wade through long grass and then found the gravestone hidden by the grass. It was very distressing.

“I have never seen the churchyard look as appalling as this.

“The people who are buried there are not forgotten just because a churchyard is closed. These people have served Felixstowe well in the past and it’s a disservice to them. It is disrespectful.”

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Mrs Greenfield’s parents Bertrand and Elizabeth Timmins are buried in the churchyard off Church Road and she had been visiting their grave regularly since they died in 1971.

When a church decides to opt for closed status, the responsibility and cost of maintaining the churchyard transfers to the council.

Andrew Nunn, cabinet member for the green environment, said: “As part of our need to make �2.3m worth of savings this year largely as a result of the government’s 30 per cent cut in funding for local councils, Suffolk Coastal has had to review every part of its services to make further efficiencies.

“One of those changes to services was to switch from cutting grass in closed churchyards every month during the growing season to only every three months.

“Largely because of the unusual summer we have had, with its unseasonal mix of heavy rain followed by hot weather which has meant that everything is growing faster than usual, we have now decided to temporarily return to monthly cuts.

“However, from March 2013 we will ask our partners Suffolk Coastal Services Ltd to cut the grass in closed churchyards every second month during the growing season.”