Cam­paign­ers take fight to Down­ing St

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By MATTHEW REVILLE

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)

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