Workmen ruined baby grave area while spraying chemicals at March cemetery - council apologises

PUBLISHED: 10:18 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 August 2017

Connor Saunders was upset when he saw the state of his baby sister Olivia's grave at Eastwood Cemetery PHOTO: Emma Saunders

Connor Saunders was upset when he saw the state of his baby sister Olivia's grave at Eastwood Cemetery PHOTO: Emma Saunders

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The council has apologised to parents with children buried in a March cemetery after workmen sprayed chemicals around the graves destroying the grass and ruining toys.

Baby graves in Eastwood Cemetery in March look like they have been sprayed with harsh chemicals which has killed off the grass and ruined toys Baby graves in Eastwood Cemetery in March look like they have been sprayed with harsh chemicals which has killed off the grass and ruined toys

The apology comes alongside a pledge to reduce the price of plots for children aged 12 and under from £390 to £90. Internment fees have also been waived.

Graves at Eastwood cemetery, March - the grass surrounding all of the baby graves look like they have been sprayed with a harsh chemical that has left the grass straw-like and sticky and ruined toys. Graves at Eastwood cemetery, March - the grass surrounding all of the baby graves look like they have been sprayed with a harsh chemical that has left the grass straw-like and sticky and ruined toys.

Parents were distraught when they arrived to find the baby grave area at Eastwood cemetery looking a mess with brown, burnt looking grass and soiled ruined toys - they said if there was CCTV they would know immediately if it was workmen or vandals.

Grass around all of the baby graves in Eastwood Cemetery look like they have been sprayed with harsh chemicals Grass around all of the baby graves in Eastwood Cemetery look like they have been sprayed with harsh chemicals

Mum Emma Saunders said: “Its awful my seven year old son was with me, he didn’t go down much as he’s finding it really hard bless him, and he stood there and said, mummy what have they done to my sister I don’t want to come here anymore.”

A spokesman for Fenland District Council confirmed it was their contractors and said: “Our contractors spray the grass around memorials to enable people to place mementos and flowers around the gravestones, as strimming these restricted areas could result in such items being damaged.

“On this occasion an excessive amount of weedkiller was used and we do apologise for that.

“We are sorry to hear of any distress caused in relation to the work that the council’s contractor has been carrying out in Eastwood Cemetery recently.

“Overall the cemetery is looking in excellent condition this year.

“With regards to the children’s section, we will continue to work to improve that area of the cemetery, with the expectation that it will be presented in a similar manner to the ashes area, where granite chips are used to enhance the site.”

The spokesman added that: “Following recent customer feedback and an enquiry from the local MP, a comparison of other local burial authority charges has been carried out and we have reduced the costs children under 12 and stillborn infants this year.

“Our contractor, ISS World, has agreed to waive any fees for conducting interments and the council is charging £90 for the plot.

“This compares favourably with burial authorities local to Fenland.”

When news of the latest problems broke Councillor Jan French urged people to get in touch with her to set up a Friends of Eastwood Cemetery group.

Fenland’s spokesman said: “We really welcome the idea from Cllr French for a Friends of the Eastwood Cemetery group which would help us work alongside, support and consult with for future ideas and developments.”

Mum Amy Reape, 23, whose baby Rei died stillborn at 33 weeks in February, said: “If there was CCTV in place we would know instantly what happened and get to the bottom of the problem.”

Friend Bobbi Denman added: “There have been other upsetting vandalism incidents down there and toys stolen. A petition was set up to get CCTV down there, this latest thing shows it’s needed.”

One of the parents affected said on March Free Discussion Facebook group: “Nobody should have to worry about money when burying their child and I’m glad FDC have listened to what I had to say and have actually implemented a change.

“If you keep fighting for the right reasons, you will get there eventually.”

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