Families' anger at 'damage and devastation' caused by tree felling at Sutton cemetery

Angry families who visited a Sutton cemetery during Mothers’ Day weekend were shocked to discover a scene of ‘devastation’ in an area where babies and children are buried.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:02 am

‘Distressed’ visitors to St Mary’s cemetery say logs and wood chippings from eight mature trees cut down by Ashfield District Council were left dumped on graves – while there was also evidence of tyre marks across others.

Furious Keith Laver and his sister Shirley Patrick say they were left horrified after visiting their their parents William and Kathleen’s grave.

“I couldn’t believe the damage and devastation in a cemetery on the weekend of Mothering Sunday. People were visibly shocked,” said Keith, who is formerly of Sutton but now lives in Clipstone.

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John Smith who is concerned at the loss of bird habitat at St Mary's after trees were cut down.

"It shows a complete disregard for the sanctity of graves and disrespect for people’s loved ones. Trees need maintenance, but there’s no reason why logs couldn’t be stacked on the road not left lying about on graves – and you could see heavy tyre tracks across some graves.”

His sister described the scene as ‘very upsetting’.

“My grandson, a baby is buried by the back wall, there were tracks nearby and sawdust blown all over. We were shocked,” she said.

And John Smith, of Ashgate, claimed the work could also have an impact on wildlife.

John Smith with one of the mature trees cut down at St Mary's cemetery

“They have gone in willy-nilly cutting down tall trees that have taken maybe 80 to 100 years to grow,” he said. “It’s a complete destruction of bird habitats, the birds can’t back to nest there now.”

The council has apologised to families who 'suffered upset and distress’ and said the trees were cut down amid concerns they were damaging graves.

"Many parents who have tragically lost a child have requested the council to act with regards to the trees,” said the spokesman. “They were causing damage and grave areas have not been able to be maintained to a high enough standard. The council acted on these requests and will be making other improvements.

John Smith is a keen birdwatcher and is very upset at Ashfield District Council for cutting down tall mature trees.

“We are aware of the condition the site was left in over the weekend, and apologise to those who suffered upset and distress when visiting their loved ones’ graves. We want to assure cemetery users that the council takes this matter seriously, and council officers are on site this morning to address the issue with the contractor involved.”

Logs have been left on graves at St Mary's Cemetery following work by Ashfield District Council. Photo: Jackie Derbyshire, Twitter.