New hope for run-down cemetery (Woodstock)

 

A disused, overgrown and run-down cemetery in Kingswood will be the subject of a public meeting taking place on Monday 3rd December.

 

The former Wesleyan Methodist cemetery on Blackhorse Road, which has been in private ownership since the late 1970s, has been inaccessible for decades. Virtually the whole of the site between Blackhorse Road and Waters Road is covered in brambles and fly-tipped rubbish and the boundary wall has also fallen down in several places.

 

Local councillors for the area have been working with officials from South Gloucestershire Council for a number of years to try and get the owner to tidy the site, but to no avail. The owner has been prosecuted twice in Court by the Council, but still has taken no action. Recent reports have suggested the owner has now disappeared ruling out any prospect of any improvement by him.

 

Now council officers are proposing one of two options depending on whether a group of residents can be found who are prepared to take on routine maintenance. Legal advice from the Council’s lawyers has suggested that a residents’ group whose intent is to improve the site would not be trespassing, paving the way for a major clear-up. Council officers have said they will arrange for an initial clear-up of the site, plus repair to the boundary walls if a residents’ group can be formed. If a group cannot be formed the council will still repair the walls but the site will be left overgrown and is unlikely to see any further money spent on it for the foreseeable future. Legal advice has also suggested that if a residents’ group maintained the site for 10 years, it is possible they could claim ownership.

 

Local councillors for the area, Andy Perkins, Gareth Manson and Pat Rooney (Labour, Woodstock) said;

 

“We have been trying for 7 or 8 years to get something done about this site. Not only is it an awful eyesore, but the relatives of people buried in the cemetery have been unable to visit their graves for decades. We had hoped that Court action would result in the owner improving the site, but it didn’t. It looks like the only real prospect of the site being tidied up and the walls repaired, is if we can get a residents’ group together who are willing to take on the job of routine maintenance after the council does an initial clear-up.”

 

To try and encourage interest in the meeting, the councillors have distributed letters to around 230 properties in the immediate area as well as emailing and posting letters to about 40 people who, over the years, have contacted the councillors about the site. Local history and family history groups have also been made aware of the meeting as a number of people are interested in the site because more distant relatives are buried there.

 

The meeting on Monday 3rd December will take place at 7pm in the Park Centre opposite Kingswood Civic Centre. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to phone Marian Jones on 01454 865839 so that the organisers have a rough idea of the number of people to expect.

 

23rd November 2012

 

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