Focus on Bridgwater’s Cemeteries

Town Clerk David Mears and Cllr Kathy Pearce at Quantock road cemtery

A ​year ago, Bridgwater Town Council took on the running of Quantock R​oad and Bristol Road Cemeteries from Sedgemoor District Council. In recent weeks problems in the supply chain for mower and equipment parts has led to longer  growth than expected at this time of year. As staff have resorted to hand cutting the grass around some 22,000 memorials, Town Council Leader Brian Smedley and Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson Kathy Pearce visited both sites with town clerk David Mears. The following statement was put out afterwards.

“Our sincere apologies for the length of the grass at both sites. We have had issues with the grass cutting equipment, with our ride-on mower awaiting parts (there is a shortage of parts across the world at the moment). The grass has also been growing at a fast rate due to the weather during May.

The team have been cutting the grass with push mowers and this is labour intensive due to the number of obstructions encountered and the size of the sites. Quantock Road is over 30 acres.

Our ground staff have now cut over half of Quantock Road Cemetery and this has taken nearly 2 weeks – they have funerals to manage as well.

We have contractors cutting the grass at St John’s this week. This will enable us to keep on top of the grass at both sites until we get our equipment back.”

Getting the right balance

St Johns Cemetery Bristol Road

Cllr Mick Lerry (PFH for Cemetery staff) added “ At the moment maintenance of the cemeteries has been affected by a break in the supply chain for mower and equipment parts, which has meant that the grass cutting schedule has been interrupted”

However, there are wider issues at stake regarding the future of cemeteries and other public spaces. Cllr Smedley added “We need to get the right balance between the respect for the graves of loved ones and ancestors that the public would expect from such a site whilst at the same time taking into consideration the best way to manage public green spaces in the light of climate change. To this end the Council is re-looking at options that meet both of these objectives.”

Cherished spaces

Cllr Kathy Pearce said “The cemeteries are cherished green spaces.  When people visit their loved ones’ graves it is often a time of quiet contemplation.  Therefore, we are looking for opportunities to make these spaces more beautiful whilst also improving habitat for wildlife.  Over the next few months, we will be planning and planting more trees, improving the hedgerows and identifying sites where we can create wildflower meadows in order to create more nesting sites for birds and nectar for pollinators etc.”

The ‘Pollinator strategy’ will be discussed at this Thursday’s Bridgwater Town Council meeting. The first to be held in real life after a year of Zoom meetings

An Inspection of Bridgwater’s Cemeteries