'Shambles' council forces man to take own lawnmower to dad's grave

Lawnmower in front of Alan Michael Turner's grave at Carlton Cemetery, Carlton, Nottinghamshire, after grass has been cut, being pushed by man in grey goodie, grey shorts and New Balance trainers
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

A man took a lawnmower to a cemetery to cut the grass at his father's grave after growing fed up with Gedling Borough Council failing to take care of it. Michael Turner, whose father Alan Turner is buried at Carlton Cemetery, took matters into his own hands after his mother Maria, Alan's widow, called him up crying and distressed at how bad the area had become.

Maria said: "It's a shambles. I've never known anything like it. It's gone downhill so much. Every time I go I get upset and stressed. We pay the council for services and they don't deliver. It broke my heart on Sunday. I couldn't cope. I thought: 'I can't deal with this.' At my age I don't need this."

Mr Turner died aged 58 in 2008 and was laid to rest in Carlton Hill. At the time, the cemetery was looked after well, says Michael, who lives in Linby, and Maria, who lives in Wollaton.

But in the last four years it has taken a turn and has gradually become more and more neglected, they say. Mrs Turner, 76, visits the site once every one or two weeks and says that sometimes she puts up with the state of the graves because there's "nothing I can do".

This time though, the grass was so high that she couldn't see the grave. She rang Michael, who two years ago had already reported the bad state to Gedling Borough Council and told them he'd bill them for his time if he had to cut it himself.

Graves surrounded by long grass viewed from side at Carlton Cemetery, Carlton, Nottinghamshire
The state of the grass before it was cut -Credit:Supplied

It was perhaps more of a tongue-in-cheek comment - something he didn't expect to actually have to do. But this time, fed up, he packed up his lawnmower and took to the grass himself.

Maria said: "He doesn't have to do that. It's not his job, is it?"

After cutting the grass, Michael reported the situation to the council, to which an operator told him she'd try to put him through to the phone lines of the ground staff. But she returned to the call to tell him no one was available and that he would be called back.

He still hasn't been called back. While some of the grass at the cemetery does appear to be cut, it is only in certain places.

Michael said it looks like whoever has been cutting it has "got bored" with where they were and moved somewhere else. And Mrs Turner queried whether the council cut the grass to make it appear kempt at the bottom of the cemetery, because it is visible from the road, but didn't bother further up where Mr Turner's grave is because most people won't see it.

Michael said: "I think it's very disrespectful. It's a place where every family who has someone buried here comes to pay their respects. And it looks like nobody gives a damn about it. You should be able to go there and be able to find the grave and walk towards it without falling into divots."

Gedling Borough Council head of environment Mel Cryer said: “We’re very sorry for any upset caused to people visiting the cemetery. The recent wet and warm weather has resulted in the grass growing quicker than we can cut it.

"To address the situation we now have an additional vehicle and extra staff. They will also be working weekends to ensure we get the cemeteries looking tidy again, we take great pride in the work we do to maintain our cemeteries and completely understand visitors’ frustration.”