Visitors’ cemetery vandalism fears

NILABE110718a1, Cllr Frank Phillips at the Park road Cemetery, Ilkeston
NILABE110718a1, Cllr Frank Phillips at the Park road Cemetery, Ilkeston

VISITORS to an Ilkeston cemetery have raised concerns after the council stopped locking the gates at night time.

People with family and friends buried at Park Road cemetery have told their local councillor, Frank Phillips, they are worried that vandals will trash the graveyard if the gates are not locked after dark.

Cllr Phillips said: “A cemetery is a vandal’s playground and it should not be left unlocked over night.

“I’ve had a lot of distressed people get in touch with me about this.

“It’s only a matter of time before something happens and not only will there be the upset for the family but it will be the tax-payer footing the bill when the council has to pay for repairs.”

Cllr Phillips added that he had contacted the council about the matter and had been told that not locking the gates is being tested out as part of cost cutting measures.

One lady, who did not want to be named, regularly visits the graves of her parents and husband in the cemetery.

She told the Advertiser: “I think it’s disgusting that the gates are left open, vandals could get in there and damage headstones and all sorts could be going on.”

Phil Wright, director for operational services at Erewash Borough Council, said: “The issue of open access to cemeteries is a difficult issue, balancing the right of access of loved ones to the need to protect memorials from vandalism and anti social behaviour.

“Over the last two weeks we have conducted a trial to leave our gates open at Park Cemetery, Ilkeston, to ascertain whether such a policy could actually work on a practical level.

“It was decided to keep the trial low key so as not to attract disproportionate levels of anti social behaviour.

“The council has reviewed the situation and has decided, at this time, not to continue with leaving the gates open.”