Campaigners take fight to Downing St
GRIEVING relatives are sending their pleas for better security at a city graveyard to the Prime Minister.
Pat Howard, of Eastfield, Peterborough, has spearheaded the campaign after seeing the grave of her stepson Martin Howard – who died aged 37 – vandalised in Eastfield Cemetery, in Eastfield Road, on May 24.
She has collected 882 signatures on a petition calling for better security measures to ensure the cemetery is safe from vandals and thieves.
Mrs Howard has been joined in her campaign by other relatives, including Penny Thornton who found a bronze statue missing from the grave of her mother Patricia Shears, on June 13.
The theft followed a similar incident on June 6, when two bronze angels were stolen from the grave of a young man in the cemetery.
Earlier this month Kelvin McIntyre (45), of Saxon Road, Eastfield, was jailed for 28 days for stealing the two bronze angels while visiting a relative’s grave and selling them on for £10 to an unwitting buyer, who returned them to their rightful owner.
Mrs Howard claims Peterborough City Council is not taking their concerns seriously enough and has decided to take her petition to Downing Street.
She said: “Most of the gravestones have the words ‘rest in peace’ on them, but the vandals are not letting them do that, and the authorities are doing nothing to stop it happening.
“We are taking our petition straight to Downing Street because it is obvious the council do not care about helping us.”
She said that in the past four weeks, she has called the council to talk about security concerns and has been referred to a particular official.
However, at a campaign meeting yesterday at Club Caliente in the Parnwell Centre, city council bereavement team manager David Adams told her it was actually him she ought to have been referred to. Mrs Howard said: “We had never heard of him before and were put through to the wrong person every time we called the council. That is very frustrating. Talking to the council seems to be a complete waste of time.”
The campaigners’ petition calls for the cemetery gates to be locked at 6pm prompt and asks for CCTV to be installed and stronger prosecution against people caught stealing from the graves.
They also want parking privileges at the cemetery for parents with children at nearby Newark Hill Primary School to be withdrawn, because they say it causes access problems.
Mrs Howard said: “The cemetery should close at 6pm but I have been down there at 9pm and nobody has come to lock the gates. If you phone the number to complain it just says the number is no longer in service, so there is nothing we can do.”
Among the 13 people at yesterday’s meeting was Sarah Birkitt, whose father Arthur Long is buried in the cemetery. She endorsed a proposed solution of Mrs Howard being given keys to open and lock the gates.
However, the idea was dismissed by Mr Adams. He said: “I wish somebody had brought this to my attention, but can guarantee that we are doing all we can to maintain all of our cemeteries.
“Our officers have five cemeteries to lock and they start doing so at 6pm. That means some will be locked after then. The relatives do not have the authority to have keys to the locks. We are not able to hand them out.”
Relating to the concern over car parking, he added: “Parents have the consent of the council to use the car park. We have a duty to look after children and that is a safe place for parents to park.”
CAMPAIGN: Pat Howard outlined planned changes to the security at Eastfield Cemetery at a meeting in the Parnwell Centre yesterday. (METP-23-06-10BD501)