A Sutton man fears the area’s cemeteries will fall back into disrepair amid cuts of £1.1 million from the council’s budget for the 2014/15 financial year.
Ian Kerry, a member of the Friends Of Ashfield War Memorial group, has campaigned tirelessly to see the area’s cemeteries including Huthwaite, Kirkby and Skegby revamped for people to pay their respects to loved ones.
Graves in Huthwaite cemetery on Sutton Road used to be covered by overgrown grass, paths were badly maintained and algae covered its war memorials. After Mr Kerry led calls for change, the council listened and cleared its cemeteries up. Mr Kerry now fears the area’s cemeteries will take a U-turn among cuts to Ashfield District Council’s budget.
He said: “The Friends of Ashfield War Memorials repairs memorials, adds names/dates and restores cemeteries to their former glory with council funding and donations. We have made a lot of progress over the years but I fear that the cemetery budget will eventually be cut. I would like to see funding ring fenced to prevent that from happening. Nine members of my family are buried in Huthwaite, I will do all I can to ensure it is kept in a respectful state.”
Independent coun Ray Buttery, for Sutton West, has backed the Friends Of Ashfield’s bid to not let standards slip. He said: “Front line services should not be cut, workers at Huthwaite cemetery have done a great job, we can’t let the cemetery fall back into its original state. We need to find other ways of saving money.”
A district council spokesperson assured that the cemetery budget is not up for review: “Cemeteries were not included in the recent public consultation carried out by the council regarding its budget. The recent increase in cemetery keepers from three to four has been main streamed and is now part of the service budget - there are no plans to reduce this number.
“In addition, restoration works have started on the Sutton war memorial, where it is planned to fully restore the monument including the replacement of the original bayonet and chains which were original features. All the district’s memorials will be professionally cleaned during the forthcoming months and a programme of ongoing upkeep and maintenance is being developed.”