Penryn Town Council has said it is “happy to assist” any volunteers wishing to tackle the overgrown graveyard at St Gluvias Church, following weeks of public complaints about the site.
Citizens of Penryn have been posting photographs of the cemetary on social media with comments about uncut grass and uncollected rubbish, as well as writing letters to the Packet.
A letter published last week, signed Rose Webber and Margaret Dancer, read: “My sister and I visited the old cemetery over the weekend at Penryn and were disgusted with the state of it. We could hardly walk down the path because of the state of the growth and the rubbish is overflowing the bins. We really hope something is done to it soon.
“We know it's an old cemetery and don't expect it to look like the new one but please it should never be left to get in this state.”
Joyce and Clifford Phillimore wrote that they were “appalled” by the state of the churchyard, and had been driven to cutting the grass around their son's grave themselves, while noting that the amount of rubbish is “disgusting”.
They added: “We do not understand why the new cemetery (the glebe) can be kept in a good condition but the old cemetery has been forgotten about.”
On Facebook, Leanne Caldock wrote: “This graveyard is often left to become this wild. I remember visiting a grave with my precious Nannie a few years ago and taking photographs because I was so appalled by the conditions. It simply isn't respectful.”
The town clerk, Michelle Davey, explained the council's position, saying that the site is the property of the Diocese of Truro, and Cornwall Council is responsible for its upkeep, while the town council owns and maintains the newer Glebe Cemetery, which has also been designed for easier upkeep, with the grass accessible by ride on mower.
She added that budgetary restraints mean that even if Cornwall Council passed responsibility for the graveyard to Penryn Town Council, they would not be able to provide the necessary funds to keep it in the same state as the newer site.
In a letter to this week's Packet, she wrote: “Cornwall Council's maintenance standards for closed cemeteries [in which burials are no longer carried out] have recently been revised in response to significant cuts in the budget. The new maintenance regimes ensure the site remains safe and that all major pedestrian routes and entrances are to be kept clear and accessible. However, all the remaining areas will be cut at a much lower frequency than previously.
“In the meantime, should a group of interested parties wish to form an action group to keep the cemetery tidy, the Town Council is happy to assist in arranging for the hire of CORMAC's new toolkit trailer which will provide all the necessary equipment, insurance cover, and disposal of rubbish and garden waste at no cost and to liaise with the Diocese regarding permissions. Anyone wishing to set up such a group may contact the Town Council by telephoning 01326 373086 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”