'A very depressing sight' -- Sutton churchyard blighted by fly-tipped rubbish

Fly-tipped rubbish strewn around a churchyard in Sutton shocked a businesswoman on one of her lockdown strolls.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 4:16 pm
Some of the rubbish found in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Sutton.
Some of the rubbish found in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Sutton.

Anna Morton took her mum and dad’s dog for a walk through the grounds of St Mary’s Church on Church Avenue on Sunday. But she couldn’t believe what she saw.

"The area immediately outside the church was in a very sorry state,” said 45-year-old Anna.

"Litter included beer cans, items of clothing, crisp packets and dirty, old mattresses. I even found knickers and bras, plus some Elvis CDs, and there was cat litter sprinkled on graves.

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Discarded litter outside St Mary's Church in Sutton.

"Maybe some bags of fly-tipped rubbish had been ripped open. But most of the rubbish looked as if it hadn’t been discarded recently.

"It was a very depressing sight, and my dad was quite shocked and upset about it. The site didn’t look as if it was being maintained at all.”

Anna’s parents are well-known couple Roger and Kathryn Morton, who live on nearby Carnarvon Grove in Sutton.

She added: “If I still lived there, I would go up and pick up all the litter myself. I am sure there are volunteers who would do it.

"It is probably because the church is locked up and closed during lockdown, and so fewer people are going up there to keep an eye on things.

"They’ve obviously had a problem with vandalism because there are plastic screens over the stained-glass windows.”

St Mary’s has been closed for worship for some time now, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and does not currently have a vicar.

Tim Guy, who is a licensed lay minister at the church, said that as soon as the Chad told him of Anna’s find, an official paid a visit to clean up, or report, the rubbish. And he explained that the church does try to monitor the grounds at least once a week.

"However, it is difficult when we are all being told to stay at home,” he said. “It is such a large area, spanning several acres, and it is a walk-through for people from the Carsic Estate to Sutton town centre. It is a nice area, and a bit of an oasis.

"We are planning to open the church again from Easter Sunday. But the churchyard has been closed to burials for a number of years, and so the responsibility for its upkeep lies with Ashfield District Council.”

A spokesperson for the council said: “The cemetery keeper is on site daily and carries out a check each morning for litter, emptying bins and removing dead wood from the paths and graves.

"We work hard to keep the cemetery a clean and tidy place for visitors. Following this report, the cemeteries team has carried out a further check of the site.”

The complaints about the fly-tipped rubbish come only a week after the Chad revealed how families were angered to find logs and wood chippings from chopped-down trees dumped on graves when visiting the churchyard, also known as Sutton Cemetery, on Mother’s Day.

The council apologised for the “upset and distress” caused and promised to address the issue with the contractors who carried out the work on the trees.