Complaints have been received about Bere Ferrers churchyard getting too overgrown.
Complaints have been received about Bere Ferrers churchyard getting too overgrown. (Tindle)

Overgrown churchyards on the Bere Peninsula are stopping people paying their respects at graves.

The state of the graveyards around Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers parish churches has drawn criticism after a spurt of summer growth.

The responsibility for keeping the graveyards tidy lies with West Devon Borough Council (WDBC) which blames mild weather and heavy rain for the out-of-control wild grasses and flowers. Council signs advise visitors that the long grass is left temporarily to encourage the development of a species-rich wild meadow.

However, Angela Blackman, West Devon Borough councillor for Bere Ferrers, has received numerous complaints from graveyard visitors unable to visit graves safely because of the undergrowth. Both graveyards are closed to further burials.

Cllr Blackman said: “Following a conversation with the officer for WDBC regarding the closed graveyards within the Bere Ferrers ward I am pleased to learn that the agreed cuts are now being undertaken. I have been contacted by numerous residents of the ward regarding safe access and it’s imperative maintenance is undertaken to ensure safe access to the closed graves at all times.

“I am hopeful that this will become a more regular occurrence so as not to prevent access to the graves for relatives of those buried in the closed yard.  It’s regrettable that I have had to push for this but hopefully now this will not be required going forward if the agreements made with WDBC are undertaken.”

A spokesperson from West Devon Borough Council said: “We know that that churchyards need to be presentable and accessible for visitors. We strike a balance between the main paths and children’s burial areas being cut regularly, while other areas are cut less frequently to encourage wildlife and biodiversity.

“In May there was significant rainfall and together with mild weather, it meant that there was faster grass growth than expected, not only in the churchyard but universally. We are working quickly to tackle this issue and therefore we had already scheduled a cut to the churchyards for next week. We have also drafted in extra colleagues from other our teams to help at the cemeteries to make sure they are up to our usual high standards.”

Bere Alston overgrown churchyard needs cutting back.
Bere Alston churchyard needs cutting back. (Tindle)
Bere Aston overgrown churchyard is due for a cut.
Bere Aston churchyard is due for a cut. (Tindle)