Outrage as Whittingham Cemetery is damaged by contractors who left tyre tracks over the ground
Tyre tracks had been left over the cemetery, which includes the graves of four WW1 veterans.
Homes England has had to apologise to Whittingham locals, who were left outraged at the end of last month after Home England's contractors had done severe damage to Whittingham Cemetery.
Workers from Nurture Landscape had left large tyre tracks over the cemetery, with one image showing they had just missed a gravestone, however they quickly remedied the situation, once they were made aware of the incident and the distress it had caused.
A Homes England spokesperson said: “Along with local people, we were deeply upset by the damage caused to the cemetery and, upon notification, immediately contacted our environmental consultants TEP and contractors Nurture. We have been working alongside them to ensure this is rectified as soon as possible and are pleased to see that Nurture will be undertaking works above and beyond the damage caused. We will be monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with TEP and the Parish Council and have been assured that an incident such as this will not happen again”.
Will Pettit, the northern Regional Manager for Nurture Landscapes added: "The team who work on the site take a great pride in the cemetery and have made some massive improvements over the past few months whilst we've had the contract, a lot of which has been recognised by the residents in the area as well. I would just like to say we are really sorry for what's happened and I will make it my priority to ensure that any damage to the grass areas is repaired instantly and that that this will never happen again."
The damage was done on Friday October 22, and after images of the tyre tracks were posted to Facebook, members of the public expressed their outrage, with many calling it a "disgrace", whilst one said "This is so sad and disrespectful. Many of these poor souls didn't have the best life and now it seems they can't even rest in peace."
One local man, Nick Ryan, who posted the images, had wrote: "Appalled / disgusted at the mess we came across in the old hospital cemetery yesterday. This demonstrates a total disrespect and is tantamount to vandalism. They have actually run over some of the name plates.
"I’m sure if I did the same in Preston cemetery I would be in front of the courts and on the front page of the local newspapers at a minimum."
However following the remedial work, Nick told the Post: "After being made aware of the situation and subsequent to the meeting, Homes England were very apologetic and the contractors have put right the damage. That aside, however, you can see from the number of comments how appalled people were.
"Considering Remembrance Day is very close it may be worth emphasising that amongst others there are war graves and a rumoured concentration camp survivor in the graveyard."
Once aware of the incident, Nurture Landscapes and The Environmental Partnership (TEP) attended the site the following Tuesday, with Nurture completing the repair works to the grassed areas that day.
TEP and Nurture also met with Whittingham Parish Council on the day, who approved of the repair work, and they discussed the offer of further works by way of apology for the distress and upset caused.
The parish councillors are discussing these further works with the council, church and others associated with the cemetery, and these will be carried out once they are approved.
Michelle Woodburn, a councillor at Whittingham Parish Council said: "I was contacted straight away once residents knew what was going on, it was Friday night, but we got the ball rolling and by Tuesday morning the contractors were there repairing the damage, which was absolutely brilliant. Obviously it shouldn't have been done, but they held their hands up and said sorry.
"The guy who’s in charge of Nurture Landscapes [Will Pettit], lives locally so he was horrified as well, so it is fine now but more communication is needed, and maybe the tractor driver didn’t realise it was such a sensitive subject, because although it was a hospital grave yard, it’s also a war grave, and residents do their best to look after it, so I don't think he realised it would blow up like this, but it happened, and we’re grateful it was fixed so quickly, especially with it being so near to Remembrance day."
Nurture Landscapes will also be visiting the cemetery on a weekly basis to monitor the works they have undertaken and to ensure any additional works to the grassed areas, which they may establish are required, will also be undertaken.