‘Upsetting’ condition of cemetery criticised as showing ‘disrespect’ to families
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Residents and councillors have criticised the condition of Blaenavon cemetery, saying its current state shows “disrespect” to families with relatives buried there.
Ward councillors Janet Jones and Stuart Evans say they have been receiving complaints from residents on a daily basis about the condition of Varteg Road Cemetery.
The complaints relate to the location of a pile of spoil, maintenance issues such as grass being overgrown and rubbish being dumped.
Councillors Jones and Evans have held meetings with Torfaen council officers and MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, but they say the concerns of residents have not been addressed.
They say the condition of the cemetery has been an ongoing concern for about four years, but that it had worsened since the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are practically at our wits’ end,” said Cllr Evans.
“We have had meetings with all the senior officers and our local MP.
“Over the years Blaenavon Town Council have been involved, trying to get this sorted, but it’s just not going anywhere.”
Cllr Jones visits the cemetery to attend the graves of seven family members, including her husband, father and grandparents who are buried there.
‘Worst she can remember’
She says the condition of the cemetery is the worst she can remember.
“When I was a child I would come here and put flowers on my grandparents’ grave,” she said.
“I can never remember it as bad as this.
“It’s showing disrespect for our families and our previous generations.
“We are fortunate to have Torfaen council maintain the cemetery, and we understand resources are limited, but it’s not being maintained to the standards it has been and this is so upsetting.”
Rob Jones, of Hillside Avenue, who regularly uses the cemetery and has a relative buried there, said the cemetery has been “poorly maintained” in recent years.
“The grass is left to grow long, there are broken headstones and there’s rubbish left everywhere,” he said.
Another concern is the location of a pile of soil, which is near to a gated entrance into the cemetery.
Residents have reported rubbish being dumped at the site.
Calls have been made for planting around the area, or for the earth to be moved to a more discreet location due to its visual impact.
Tom Huish, former mayor of Torfaen and Blaenavon, has requested details of how much the council spends on maintaining the cemetery.
A Torfaen council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the concerns raised by local councillors and we’re working with them to address these issues.”